Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

A USA national security delegation arrived in Israel on Tuesday for high-level meetings with Israeli counterparts to discuss the Syria ceasefire deal that Washington has struck with Moscow, despite reservations from the Israeli side on not going far enough in tackling Iran's presence in southern Syria.

Israel signaled on Sunday that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent any encroachment by Iranian-allied forces, even as the United States and Russian Federation try to build up a ceasefire in the area.

The presence of Iran in Syria is legitimate, Lavrov was quoted as saying by another agency, Interfax.

As an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow finds itself part of an alliance between Damascus and Tehran, the patron of Hezbollah.

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Israel has long complained about the involvement of archenemy Iran, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, in the Syria war.

As the Russian-Iranian strategic partnership has deepened over the a year ago, Lavrov has sought to play down the potential for a wider regional war arising from Tehran's role in Syria.

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of the Syrian war, but officials have acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes on suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah.

Speaking to a special session of the Knesset on Monday, Netanyahu said he told Washington and Moscow that Israel will act according to its "security needs".

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had intensively lobbied in Moscow and Washington for the agreement to create a 37-50 mile secure buffer zone between Israel and Syria.

The Iranian presence through proxies on Israel's border is seen "as a major strategic threat and - importantly - increasingly as one that can not easily be addressed by a paltry few kilometers of buffer near the Golan" he continued. Gadi Eisenkot secretly flew to Brussels on Friday where he met with met with the head of the US Army's European Command Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.

Mr Schneider described Iranian influence in Syria as "becoming increasingly pervasive".

A U.S. State Department official said Russian Federation had agreed "to work with the Syrian regime to remove Iranian-backed forces a defined distance" from the Golan Heights frontier with Israel, which captured the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war.

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