Putin and Netanyahu - Illustration (AFP)
Russia responds to Israel's demand for an Iranian presence in Syria
Israeli Defense Minister visits Russia to reach understandings on the removal of Iranian forces from the border with Israel in the Golan Heights and Netanyahu stresses: There is no room for any Iranian presence in Syria
After years of security tension between Israel and Syria, due to the Iranian military concentration near the border between Israel and Syria, yesterday the heads of the Israeli security system felt relieved. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Syrian forces should be active only in the southern border of Syria, close to Israel.
On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to travel to Russia after the Russian defense minister called him on Friday. Senior representatives from the security system will travel with the Israeli Defense Minister. The purpose of travel is to reach understandings with Russia on the desired situation on the border between Israel and Syria.
Israel is expected to agree to the presence of Assad forces on the southern border, as long as Iranian forces and Hezbollah do not accompany them. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office expressed support for the Russian decision, warning that "there is no room for Iranian concentration in any part of Syria."
"We believe that there is no place for Iran's military presence in any part of the Syrian territory," said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, "These statements certainly reflect our position, I can certainly say that they reflect other positions in the Middle East and beyond."
According to Israeli estimates, about 2,000 Iranian officers and soldiers, dozens of Iranians and members of the Revolutionary Guards, and more than 8,000 Shiite militias from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, and around 7,000 Hezbollah fighters are currently operating in Syria.