Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Israel operations will continue in Syria as needed, PM says

Israel operations will continue in Syria as needed, PM says

A U.S. -Russian statement Saturday affirmed an understanding calling for "the reduction and ultimate elimination" of foreign fighters.

Officials from the US National Security Council have reportedly flown in for talks with Israeli security heads slated to begin Tuesday, primarily over the US-Russia agreement regarding Syria and Iran's growing threat to the region, US officials confirmed.

In addition to the Syria agreement, the officials are likely to discuss Iran's alleged construction of a military base less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Israel's Golan border.

Moscow did not immediately provide details on the deal.

The move, according to one Israeli official briefed on the arrangement, is meant to keep rival factions inside Syria away from each other, but it would effectively keep Iranian-linked forces at various distances from the Israeli-occupied Golan as well.

Pressed by a reporter as to how exactly the Russians would convince the Iranians to withdraw from Syria entirely, the official described the memorandum as having "kind of extended that (earlier) progress to really turn the area into a de-escalation area", before reiterating that USA policy remains committed to a Syria "free of Iran, free of Hezbollah, free of all these militias that the Iranians have imported". Israel has "set red lines and will stand firm on this", he said Sunday.

But, according to Reuters, Israel signaled on Sunday that it would continue to attack inside Syrian territory to block Iranian satellite forces at its door, no matter what the super powers are ready to sacrifice to reach a ceasefire in southern Syria.

On Saturday, Israel shot down a Syrian unmanned aircraft that it said tried to infiltrate Israeli airspace from neighboring Syria. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed the drone on the Syrian government.

According to the minister, Russian Federation and the United States discussed in detail only mechanisms of functioning of the de-escalation area in south-western Syria.

Russia, which has a long-term military garrison in Syria, has said it wants foreign forces to quit the country eventually.

According to local media reports, the delegation includes U.S. officials from the national security council.

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