Report: Israel presses Russia, U.S. on Hizbullah-free buffer zone in Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, July 7, 2017

Israel is seeking a demilitarized buffer zone in southern Syria that would prevent Hizbullah and “other Iranian-backed militias” from operating in the area, a report said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by aides, on a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 6. / GPO photo

Israel wants the buffer zone to extend some 30 miles (48 kilometers) beyond the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights, the Times of London reported on July 6, citing “sources in the Middle East.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has discussed the issue with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, the report said.

The buffer zone would include the Syrian city of Daraa, where Sunni rebels have engaged in major battles against Assad regime and Hizbullah forces in recent months.

The Kremlin on July 6 said Netanyahu’s latest phone call came “at the Israeli side’s initiative. Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria.”

Israel was also “present on the sidelines of talks in Amman between the Americans and the Russians to negotiate the future of southern Syria,” the report said.

Separate reports said Israel, Jordan and the U.S. had come to an understanding that any end-of-conflict agreement would leave only Syrian government forces in an area along the Israeli and Jordanian borders in Deraa Province.

Israel frequently coordinates with Russia to avoid clashes over Syria when it carries out periodic airstrikes on Hizbullah weapon convoys.

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