by WorldTribune Staff, March 6, 2017
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will press Russian President Valdimir Putin not to allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.
Netanyahu, who is traveling to Moscow on March 9 for a meeting with Putin, told his cabinet on March 5 he will seek “specific understandings” with Russia to prevent Teheran from permanently setting up a base of operations in Syria against Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“With the framework of these arrangements, and also without them, there is an Iranian effort to become firmly established on a permanent basis in Syria, either through the presence of ground forces, or naval forces,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also said Syria is involved in a “gradual attempt to open up a front against us on the Golan Heights” and that he will express Israel’s fierce opposition to this in his discussions with Putin.
“I hope that we can reach specific understandings in order to decrease possible friction between our forces and theirs, as we did successfully until now,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu traveled to Moscow in September 2015 near the outset of Russia’s military engagement in Syria and set up a de-confliction mechanism between the two countries aimed at preventing any accidental engagement between Israeli and Russian forces in Syria.
Last month, Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria and how he defines Israel’s interests there when he met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington. Diplomatic sources said the prime minister now wants to have a similar conversation with Putin.