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March 3, 2019 12:58 pm

Netanyahu: Israel, Russia to Cooperate on Foreign Troop Exit From Syria

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, May 9, 2018. Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool / File via Reuters.

Israel and Russia will work together on securing an exit of foreign forces from Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday after visiting Moscow to advocate against the Iranian presence in the country.

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad beats back an eight-year-old insurgency, Israel worries that his reinforcements from Iran and the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah will stay on to form a new front against it.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria. These operations have been largely ignored by Russia, which intervened militarily on Assad’s behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

Netanyahu said that, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, he had made it “unequivocally clear” that such strikes would continue, with an Israeli-Russian military hotline continuing to prevent accidental clashes between the countries.

He did not elaborate. Moscow had no immediate comment. In the past, Russia has spoken in favor of other forces leaving Syria, though it plans to keep a long-term garrison there.

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