Russian FM reportedly claims removal of Iranian forces in Syria were not part of talks with the US, states that Iran maintaining presence in Syria as “legitimate”; Netanyahu informed US, Russia that “Israel will take action in Syria, including southern Syria, as we see fit and according to our security needs”, Nov. 14, 2017.
Russia claimed that the ceasefire agreement in Syria does not include Russia’s commitment to remove Iranian forces from Syria, stating that Iran maintaining its presence in Syria is “legitimate”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the remarks on Tuesday, stating not only does Iran have a “legitimate” presence in Syria, but that “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 US supports.”
Lavrov reportedly stated that removal of Iranian forces from Syria was never part of talks with the United States and Jordan, reportedly stating, “If we talk about the pro-Iranian forces, then some will be tempted to call the entire Syrian Army pro-Iranian. And then what? Will it have to surrender? This is what they call wishful thinking.”
His remarks come after Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed Monday that he clarified directly to Washington and Russia that Israel would act in Syria if it need to, confirming he informed President Putin directly on Tuesday.
Netanyahu stated Monday, “We [Israel] are doing it with a balanced combination of strength and responsibility. We are defending our borders, we are defending our country and we will continue to do this. I have communicated to our friends in Washington… and also to our friends in Moscow that Israel will take action in Syria, including southern Syria, as we see fit and according to our security needs. That is the deciding factor, and it will continue to be the deciding factor.”
The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire deal to eliminate “non-Syrian foreign forces” from the Golan Heights that pose a threat to Israel and Jordan on Saturday. The “US-Russia-Jordan Memorandum of Principles” was initially reported to focus on eliminating foreign fighters in Syria, including Hezbollah and Iranian-backed forces, from the Golan Heights.
Israel on Sunday reacted the ceasefire deal, confirming that it does not meet Israel’s demands and security needs. Israeli MP Tzachi Hanegbi announced on Sunday that the agreement does not meet Israel’s demands and that the Jewish State has every right to defend itself, stating the agreement “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north,” adding that “there’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this.”
Photo, Sergey Lavrov, CC, 2016.