Netanyahu and Putin address Syria, Iran in joint…


Sources in Netanyahu's office explained that "the meeting is part of a broad worldwide effort led by the prime minister in order to instill into the global consciousness the danger of Iranian establishment in Syria".

A recent truce deal the two powers brokered for southwest Syria makes no mention of ending Iran's presence, and that's got Israel rattled.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen visited Washington last week to meet with U.S. security officials including National Security Adviser H.R McMasters in talks that were believed to have focused on security matters of concern to Israel in Lebanon and Syria.

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"There is evidence, of course, of Iran's aggression that has not diminished after the nuclear agreement, but it also poses a problem for Israel, but for all the countries of the Middle East and the entire world", Netanyahu said in a statement.

The meeting will focus on "Iran's accelerated attempt to establish a military presence in Syria", Netanyahu said. Both Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his six-year civil war against armed Syrian rebels.

Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Moscow and now a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, expects Netanyahu and Putin "will try to find a solution in which the Iranians can stay in Syria under Russian control", with no military units and no military bases. "But the bad thing is that where the defeated Islamic State group vanishes, Iran is stepping in".

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Despite the coordination between the two countries, some of the reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria on weapons convoys have led to tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow.

An Israeli media report noted that the delegation shared "sensitive, credible and deeply troubling intelligence", showing the expanding deployment of Iranian forces in Syria, which estimates put at 500 Iranian army soldiers, 5,000 Hezbollah fighters and several thousand guerrillas from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

"There should be no arrangement that allows Iran and its proxies to base themselves militarily in Syria", said Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry. Israel at the time stressed the need to discuss Iranian presence on the Syrian territory, specifically the withdrawal of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and Shiite militias.

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Israel has come out clearly against the cease-fire brokered in Syria between Russian Federation and the United States, fearing that it will enshrine a permanent Iranian military presence in the country.