Netanyahu to Address Iranian Presence in Syria in Talks With Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he intends to discuss Iran’s “accelerated” presence in Syria as part of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi Wednesday.

“I will discuss with him Iran’s accelerated attempt to establish a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This attests, of course, to Iran’s aggression which has not lessened in the wake of the nuclear agreement.” The prime minister added that “this also presents a problem not only to Israel, but rather to all the nations of the Middle East and the entire world.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on June 7, 2016. Photo by Haim Zach / GPO 

Netanyahu is expected to be joined in Sochi by Mossad head Yoram Cohen and National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Iran launches a missile at the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, June 18, 2017. Credit: IRINN via Wikimedia Commons.

According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel has been in “frantic contact” with the U.S. and Russia in the past few weeks over fears of Iran’s presence continuing unabated in Syria. In talks last week with senior U.S. officials, a high-ranking delegation of Israeli defense officials were dismayed over a failure to secure a commitment from Washington for an inclusion of a clause demanding a full withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria in the event of a peace deal.

Israel has repeatedly warned that a permanent Iranian presence in Syria would constitute the crossing of a red line which Israel would not be able to live with, the report added.