Netanyahu says to continue military operation in Syria

14 November, 2017, 20:57 | Author: Valerie Burke
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A USA national security delegation arrived in Israel on Tuesday for high-level meetings with Israeli counterparts to discuss the Syria ceasefire deal that Washington has struck with Moscow, despite reservations from the Israeli side on not going far enough in tackling Iran's presence in southern Syria.

Israel has largely stayed out of the war but has struck suspected weapon convoys to Hezbollah.

The PMO did not say when Netanyahu spoke with Putin.

Israel has long pressed Moscow, the leading player in the conflict since militarily intervening on behalf of the Assad regime in September 2015, to create a buffer zone of up to 50 km in the Syrian Golan Heights in which Shiite proxies backed by Tehran would be banned. The agreement was announced Saturday by the U.S. and Russian Federation in a joint statement calling for "the reduction, and ultimate elimination" of foreign fighters from southern Syria.

In his first response to the agreement, Netanyahu said Monday he told both Washington and Moscow that Israel would continue operating in Syria.

"I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs".

Israel signaled on Sunday that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent any encroachment by Iranian-allied forces, even as the United States and Russian Federation try to build up a ceasefire in the area. According to reports, the new ceasefire agreement would allow for Iranian troops to remain some 5 kilometers from Israel's border.

His regional cooperation minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, sounded circumspect about the deal, telling reporters that it "does not meet Israel's unequivocal demand the there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north".

As Israel has raised concerns over the agreement, officials from the US National Security Council arrived in Israel on Tuesday for talks with Israeli security heads.

Israeli defense figures are troubled by this and by the fact that the superpowers seem unwilling to take genuine measures to kick Iran out of Syria in general, and southern Syria in particular.

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