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MARCH 2021

Syrian, Israeli Intelligence Officials Held Meeting At Hmeimim Air Base – Report

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Syrian, Israeli Intelligence Officials Held Meeting At Hmeimim Air Base – Report

An old military vehicle can be seen positioned near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights. IMAGE: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Syrian and Israeli intelligence officials have held a secret meeting, the UAE-based al-Arabiya al-Hadath reported on January 14.

The secret meeting, which was supposedly arranged by Russia, was held at Hmeimim Air Base in the costal Syrian governorate of Lattakia. The base is the headquarters of Russian troops in Syria.

Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath didn’t provide details on when the alleged meeting took place, who attended or what was the main purpose of it.

According to the news channel, this was the second secret meeting between Syrian and Israeli intelligence officials. The first meeting was held a while ago in Cyprus and was also arranged by Russia.

The report is highly questionable as it came amid high tensions between Syria and Israel. Earlier this week, a series of Israeli strikes hit military positions in the eastern Syrian governorate of Deir Ezzor. Dozens of Syrian and Iranian-backed fighters were allegedly killed. A senior Syrian intelligence officer was also injured.

In 2019, Israel recovered the remains of Zachary Baumel, a U.S.-born Israeli soldier missing since a 1982 tank battle against the Syrian Arab Army. Russia facilitated the recovery efforts. Several Syrian prisoners were released from Israeli jails in return.

While al-Arabiya’s report may be a mere propaganda stunt, it is possible that Russia is arranging Syrian-Israeli talks on specific matters like the prisoners, missing personnel issue.

Syria engaged in peace talks with Israel on a number of occasions before. The last round of talks, which was held in Turkey in 2008, saw some progress. However, it eventually collapsed.

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