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Sources: Israel Urged US to Stay in Iraq-Syria Border Area

Sources: Israel Urged US to Stay in Iraq-Syria Border Area

Saturday, 19 October, 2019 - 07:30
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stand during statements to the press during a meeting at the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed strong concern over the latest developments in northern Syria in the aftermath of a decision to pull US forces from the area and a US-brokered ceasefire between Turkey and Syria's Kurds, political sources in Tel Aviv said.

The sources said that Netanyahu asked visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting at his official residence in West Jerusalem for Washington not to withdraw from other areas in Syria.

At the end of the meeting, Netanyahu said: "We've had important discussions about strengthening our alliance, the region, the various challenges that we face together."

He added that "the Middle East is a sea of troubles and turbulence, but if there is one thing that stands out, it's the ability, stability and strength of the America-Israel alliance. We talked about making it even stronger, and I want to thank you for consistent support."

Pompeo flew to Israel after he and US Vice President Mike Pence negotiated a deal that will see Turkey suspend its operation against Kurds in Syria.

Pompeo pledged support for Israel and said he discussed Iran with Israel's PM.

"We talked about all the efforts that we have made to push back against the threat not only to Israel but to the region and the world" from Iran, the US official said as Netanyahu nodded.

But there are reports that Israeli politicians and security officials have been concerned over a possible “surprise” decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from the strategic al-Tanf garrison on the Iraq-Jordan border and other areas, which Israel considers sensitive on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The critical question for Israel “is the continued presence of American troops at the al-Tanf base, which has some impact on the land corridor linking Iran and Iraq to Syria and Lebanon,” wrote Amos Harel in an analysis in Haaretz newspaper.

“Trump’s conduct is worrisome in the wider context of the regional struggle against Iran,” he said about the US president’s betrayal of the Kurds, who have been fundamental in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

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