Israel and Russia will work through a joint group to remove all foreign forces from Syria, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on March 3 at the weekly cabinet meeting.
“President Putin and I also agreed on a shared goal – the removal from Syria of the foreign forces that came in after the civil war erupted … We agreed to set up a joint task force which, together with others, will work to advance towards this goal,” Reuters quoted the Israeli PM as saying.
Despite the agreement with Russia, Netanyahu stressed that his country will continue to work against Iranian forces in Syria. Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes on the war-torn country in the last eight years under this pretext.
“I made it unequivocally clear that Israel will not allow Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and I made unequivocally clear that we will continue to militarily act against it,” Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Last week, Netanyahu visited Moscow and held extensive talks on Syria with President Vladimir Putin. This was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders had since the downing of the Russian intelligence plane over Syria in September.
Following the meeting, Putin revealed that the two countries are working to establish a working group with the aim of normalizing the situation in Syria after the defeat of the terrorists there.
“The idea is that with all interested parties, first of all, of course, the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic, it may be the opposition, these are countries of the region, everyone who is involved in this conflict,” Putin said back then.
While Tel Aviv sees the withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria as a top priority, Moscow and Damascus consider the presence of Iranian personnel in the country as a legal move because they are deployed under request from the Syrian government.
Furthermore, Damascus and Teheran are being engaged in a deep military technological cooperation. This means that the joint group is not likely achieve the withdrawal of all or at least any foreign forces. On the other hand, the group may become a useful tool to de-escalate the situation between powers involved in the conflict and to start working on some compromise decision on the settlement of the conflict.
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