Netanyahu meets Putin in Russia to discuss Syria, Iran, security issues

By: Junie MoreheadPublished: 8 months ago


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Netanyahu meets Putin in Russia to discuss Syria, Iran, security issues:

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday to try to enlist Moscow’s help in getting Iran to remove its forces from Syria — or at least pull back from Israeli lines.  Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about the growing presence of Iranian troops and allied militias in neighboring Syria, where they have provided vital support to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a grinding civil war. Advertisement  “Iran needs to leave Syria — that is not something new for you,” Netanyahu told Putin as they headed into their meeting.  But while Russia and Iran are close allies in the battle to defend Assad’s government against the rebels trying to unseat him, some regional experts and diplomats question Putin’s ability — or interest — in persuading Tehran to pull out altogether.  Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected such demands.  “No one can force Iran to do anything,” the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, told reporters in comments cited by Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency in May.  “As long as terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants, Iran will have a presence [in Syria]. Those who have entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian government should leave.”  Putin is being courted by all sides in the days leading up to his summit with President Trump on Monday in Helsinki, where the issue of Iran’s presence in Syria is expected to be high on the agenda. Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iran’s supreme leader, was also in Moscow on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with the Russian president Thursday.  While Israel has not intervened directly in the fighting in Syria, it has acted against what it calls “game-changing” new threats on its northern border — principally weapons shipments to the Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which is also aiding Assad.  In April, Israel shot down what it identified as an armed Iranian drone that had infiltrated its airspace from Syria and bombarded the military base from which it said the drone had been launched. The incident, a major escalation, resulted in the loss of an Israeli F-16 that was hit by Syrian antiaircraft missiles.  In another manifestation of the threat Israel sees emanating from its neighbor, a Syrian armed forces drone penetrated more than six miles into Israeli territory Wednesday before it was shot down by a Patriot antimissile battery over the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli military said.  “We will continue to take strong action against any trickle [of fire] and any infiltration into Israel's airspace or territory,” Netanyahu said in Moscow.  Late Wednesday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the Israeli air force had fired several missiles at Syrian army positions in the southwestern province of Quneitra.  The Israeli army said it targeted three military posts in Syria “in response to the infiltration” of the Syrian drone. There were no immedia
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