White House spokesperson says US has shared interest in preventing Iran from gaining military foothold in southern part of country

 July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration shares a goal with Israel of keeping Iran out of southern Syria, a spokesman said, and will continue consulting with Israel about a Syrian ceasefire that Israel’s government is vigorously opposing.

“There’s a shared interest that we have with Israel, making sure that Iran does not gain a foothold, military base-wise, in southern Syria,” Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said Monday at the daily briefing for reporters.

“So while we’re going to continue those talks, obviously we want to have the productive ceasefire, but we also want to make sure that we’re not — one of our other objectives obviously remains to make sure that Iran does not gain a foothold in southern Syria,” he said. “So we need to continue to have that discussion with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu about his concerns, but I think there is a shared goal there.”

Netanyahu over the weekend said he opposed the ceasefire in southwestern Syria, near the border with the Golan Heights and brokered last week by the United States and Russia, because he fears it will give Iran a foothold in a region close to Israel.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that the ceasefire deal took Israel into consideration saying “I can guarantee that the American side and we did the best we can to make sure that Israel’s security interests are fully taken into consideration.”

Iran and its Lebanese ally, the Hezbollah militia, have helped prop up the Assad regime in Syria. The civil war there has raged since 2011 and has claimed an estimated 500,000 lives.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Times Of Israel