Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Russian-Israeli Agreement to Keep Iran Away from Syria's South

Russian-Israeli Agreement to Keep Iran Away from Syria's South

Friday, 1 June, 2018 - 05:45
Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks take positions near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Moscow and Tel Aviv held advanced talks Thursday concerning Syria and agreed to “limit” the presence of Tehran in the south of the country.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met in Moscow with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, while President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Syrian file in a phone call.

The two sides agreed to “limit” Iran, keep its forces away from the south, and to allow Tel Aviv to target menacing bases in the deep Syrian territories.

The Kremlin said the Putin-Netanyahu conversation focused on “some aspects of the Syrian settlement,” which it didn’t specify.

A Russian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Moscow refuses to offer details about the understanding with Tel Aviv to respect the balance in its separate relationships with each of Israel and Iran.

“Russia is somehow embarrassed because talks with the Israelis mainly focus on a plan to remove Iran and its forces from southern Syria,” the source added.

On Thursday, Lieberman informed Shoigu that “Israel greatly appreciates Russia's understanding of our security needs, especially regarding the situation on our northern border."

The Israeli Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the two ministers discussed "the Israeli campaign to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria."

Russian sources said talks between the two sides produced agreements concerning the South of Syria, stipulating the withdrawal of Iranian-linked forces from the area and offering Israel a green light to launch military operations against any threatening target, except regime forces positions.

Later, Israeli sources confirmed reaching such an understanding with the Russians.

The meeting in Moscow came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Iranian troops and "Hezbollah" appear to be getting ready to withdraw from southern Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Separately, Syrian regime forces launched a security campaign in the Latakia Governorate to arrest several wanted criminals around the province.

In the past two days, security forces personnel have arrested a large number of wanted criminals in the provincial capital and port-city of Jableh

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