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April 9, 2017 12:47 pm

Report: Netanyahu Lobbying for Syrian Buffer Zone as Russia Reinforces Support for Assad

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Destroyed buildings in Quneitra, Syria, near the Israeli border. Photo: Ed Brambley via Wikimedia Commons. – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly lobbying for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel, Jordan and Syria as part of any future resolution to end the six-year Syrian Civil War.

According to Israeli daily HaaretzNetanyahu addressed the issue in recent talks with US administration officials and other international actors, as a means of maintaining regional stability by keeping Iran’s forces and the Iranian-sponsored terror group Hezbollah at a safe distance from Israeli territory. The prime minister insisted on the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, secured by forces other than those from the Jewish state, the report said.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Netanyahu similarly expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies—many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery—operating in Syria close to Israel’s northern border.

Netanyahu’s reported lobbying for the buffer zone comes after President Donald Trump’s surprise military strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s purported chemical attack earlier this month, the latter killing at least 86 Syrians. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s full support for the US strike.

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US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that pushing Iranian influence out of Syria and removing Assad are now top priorities for the Trump administration.

A coalition of Russian, Iranian and pro-Iranian forces loyal to Assad said Sunday that the US strike crossed “red lines,” and that the coalition members would respond to any new aggression and increase their support for Assad’s regime.

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