Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman is meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on May 31 in Moscow to discuss Iranian military presence in Syria, The Times of Israel reported.
Before Lieberman set off to Moscow, he had twitted that “the primary focus of the defense establishment is preventing the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies in Syria.”
יוצא כעת לביקור עבודה ברוסיה ומחר אפגש עם עמיתי, שר ההגנה סרגיי שויגו. המיקוד העיקרי של מערכת הביטחון היה ונותר מניעת התבססות של איראן וגרורותיה בסוריה. pic.twitter.com/qKo4gjNKEQ
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) May 30, 2018
On May 30, Israeli Channel 10 reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had hold a high-level security cabinet meeting to discuss the situation in Syria. According to Channel 10, Netanyahu revealed that he had spoken with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Netanyahu requested that a proposed US-Russian-Jordanian agreement on the deployment of forces in southern Syria involves a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.
On the same day, Netanyahu threatened that Israeli forces will hit Iranian targets “anywhere in Syria”.
“We will continue to act against [Tehran’s] intention to establish a military presence in Syria across from us, not just across from the Golan Heights but anywhere in Syria,” he said.
Israeli statements came after Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov repeated remarks that non-Syrian troops should be pulled back from the South of Syria “as soon as possible”.
On May 29, at the international Primakov Readings Forum in Moscow Lavrov stated:
“We have well-known agreements concerning the southwestern de-escalation zone,” he said.
“Those agreements were concluded by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Israel was perfectly aware of them while they were still being drafted. They stipulate that the zone of de-escalation is expected to consolidate stability and that all non-Syrian forces must be pulled out of that area. I believe this must happen as soon as possible. This is precisely what we are busy with now in cooperation with our Jordanian and US counterparts.”
On May 28, Lavrov emphasized that only Syrian troops should be near Syria’s southern border.
“Of course, the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces must be carried out on a mutual basis, this should be a two-way street,” Lavrov said.
“The result of this work which should continue and is continuing should be a situation when representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic’s army stand at Syria’s border with Israel.”
The tensions between Israel and Iran have recently grown even further.
It should be noted Tel Aviv claims that Iran is allegedly trying to establish its military presence in southern Syria in order to attack Israel. Tehran rejects these allegations and says that it has sent its forces to train Syrian government troops fighting against terrorist groups.