Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iranian Presence in Syria Is Legitimate, Russia Says Amid Israeli Concerns

Iranian Presence in Syria Is Legitimate, Russia Says Amid Israeli Concerns

If we speak of pro-Iranian forces, probably, someone would like to call nearly the whole Syria pro-Iranian.

In August, the Russian foreign minister responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's warning that Iran posed a grave military threat to the Jewish state by saying, "We do not have any information that someone is preparing an attack on Israel".

The news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who added that the Iranian presence in Syria is legitimate.

"If you look at who is the greatest danger, it's just the wards of the United States, various foreign terrorists, militants who are attached to those groups of armed opposition that the U.S. supports", Lavrov said.

Israeli media quoted a USA official as saying that all non-Syrian fighters, including Iranian sponsored forces, would be expelled from the area near Israel's border and eventually from all of Syria.

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As the Russian-Iranian strategic partnership has deepened over the past year, Lavrov has sought to play down the potential for a wider regional war arising from Tehran's role in Syria. Israel has long pressed Moscow, the leading player in the conflict since militarily intervening on behalf of the Assad regime in September 2015, to create a buffer zone of up to 50 km in the Syrian Golan Heights in which Shiite proxies backed by Tehran would be banned. "I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs".

Mr Schneider described Iranian influence in Syria as "becoming increasingly pervasive".

Israeli Cabinet Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday that the agreement "does not answer Israel's unequivocal demands that there will be no developments that bring Iranian or Hezbollah forces closer to Israel's border with Syria in the north". However, according to Israeli media, the new ceasefire will allow such fighters to entrench themselves in areas located only five kilometers from Israel's frontier.

Tel Aviv revealed, Monday, a secret meeting held last week between IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and US General Curtis Scaparrotti in Brussels - it meant to discuss Iran's dominance in Syria and intention to impose its presence in the region via installing land and navy military bases.

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