JERUSALEM — A top Israeli Cabinet minister says Syrian President Bashar Assad is a "monster" but not Israel's primary concern.

Yoav Gallant, a retired military general and current security Cabinet member, says Monday Israel will not allow Iran to establish a presence in neighboring Syria but will not dictate who leads the country after its civil war.

Gallant says Assad is the region's "greatest murderer" since World War II, and is responsible for killing half a million of his own people. But Gallant says "this is a worldwide problem and not Israel's problem."

Israel, like others, had once insisted on Assad's removal from power. Gallant told foreign reporters in Jerusalem he hoped Assad "won't be with us" in the future but that the international community would decide his fate.