U.S. delegation headed to Israel to discuss Syria border deal

15 November, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • GPO  Channel 2 News

"I have clarified to our friends in Washington and our friends in Moscow that we will operate in Syria, including southern Syria, in accordance with our understanding and in accordance with our security needs", Netanyahu said, describing Israel's security policy as "the right combination of firmness and responsibility".

Netanyahu's words come two days after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they agreed to expand the July 7 ceasefire in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.

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

"We have not discussed in detail with our United States colleagues what is going on in the whole territory of Syria, apart from the fact that we have fixed our and Iranian legitimate presence under an invitation of the legitimate Syrian government".

Netanyahu's remarks follow that of the country's regional cooperation minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who expressed similar sentiment a day earlier.

That was an allusion to Israeli military strikes in Syria, carried out against suspected Hezbollah or Iranian arms depots or in retaliation for attacks from the Syrian-held Golan.

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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.

According to the official version of the agreement signed over the weekend, all foreign forces, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iran-affiliated Shiite militias-most notably Hezbollah, must leave Syrian territory.

Those distances would range from as little as 5km-7km up to around 30km, depending on current rebel positions on the Syrian Golan, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The Israel Television News Company reported Sunday night that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot paid a secret visit secretly to the Commander of the European Command (UCO) of the US Army, General Curtis Scaparrotti last Thursday in Brussels, where Eizenkot and three top-ranking IDF officers debated Israel's responses to the Iranian advances in the Middle East, emphasis on Syria.

Speaking later on Monday in Parliament, Mr Netanyahu said some of Israel's Arab neighbours shared its concerns.

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