Israel Warns Russia, Iran Must Pull out of Syria or Else
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was very direct with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their last meeting: Iran must withdraw from Syria or the Russian ally risks being attacked directly. Netanyahu told his Cabinet that he had voiced his plans to Putin, telling him that Iran troops would be targeted in Syria by the Israeli military unless the latter withdraws entirely from the war-torn country, Washington Examiner reports.
“We Will Act Against Iran’s Efforts Anywhere In Syria,” Netanyahu Vows
Russia and Iran are providing military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syria War. Syria is a southern neighbor to Israel, and a significant number of Iranian troops are stationed inside Syria. While the Russian-led coalition is providing ground support to keep Assad in power, Israel has been carrying out major airstrikes to limit Iran’s capacity in Syria.
Netanyahu claims Iran’s presence near its borders threatens Israeli sovereignty, and their presence anywhere in Syria empowers the latter for political advantage.
“First of all, Iran has to withdraw from all of Syria,” Netanyahu said. “Second, we will take action — and are already taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria.”
US Vows to Respond Decisively To Assad Troops Presence in Southern Syria
Russia has supported the call for Iran to move away from southern Syria since it borders Israel but agrees that Iran is free to set down camp anywhere else in the country. Netanyahu wants none of this. According to Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of the Israeli intelligence ministry, Iran has advanced weapon systems such as surface-to-surface missiles and anti-aircraft systems which Israel believes must be prevented from being deployed in Syria at all costs.
Moving Iranian forces away from Southern Syria puts the Syrian government in a predicament. If Iran decides to move away from southern Syria, Syrian forces loyal to Assad cannot occupy the region because this would violate a ceasefire agreement between President Putin and President Trump for the region. The United States has made it clear that it will take decisive actions against Syrian government violations of the southern area bordering Israel.
“We affirm again that the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Syrian government violations in this area,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert warned. “Existing diplomatic channels have successfully monitored and de-escalated the situation in the southwest, avoiding any resumption of fighting for nearly a year. The cease-fire must continue to be enforced and respected.”
The standoff between Iran and Israel in Syria reached a new level of tension when on May 10 the Israeli army confirmed that it launched airstrikes targetting Iranian-operated bases in Syria. Israel alleges the strikes were in response to strikes fired by Iran into the Golan Heights the day before. Those strikes into the Golan Heights were in response to strikes launched by Israel on an Iranian weapons facility in Syria and whether it was the Syrian military or Iran that launched the strikes into the Golan Heights is debated.
The escalation of strikes took place just hours after US President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear weapons deal. Hours after that announcement, Israel launched strikes at the Iranian weapons facility citing “irregular activity.”
As tensions have increased, Israel has met with Russia multiple times to urge for cooperation in forcing Iran out of Syria. On Monday, one day after Netanyahu’s comments on Iran, Israel’s national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat met with Russian officials in Moscow to discuss Iran’s presence in Syria.