Israeli PM to urge Putin not to allow Iranian military presence in Syria

Huang Panyue

JERUSALEM, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday and urge him to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.

Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting that he hopes to reach "understandings" with Putin on Iran's role in any future agreement to end the war in Syria.

"In the context of this agreement, or without it, Iran is trying to establish itself permanently in Syria, with a military presence on the ground and at sea, and also a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights," Netanyahu said.

"I will express to President Putin Israel's sharp and vigorous opposition to this possibility. I hope we will be able to reach certain understandings to reduce possible friction between our forces and theirs, as we have successfully done up until now," he added.

Iran has aided its close ally, Syria, in the seven-year civil war.

Israel has been formally neutral in the war but has reportedly carried out several airstrikes in the neighboring Syria.

In April, Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time that Israel had launched "dozens" of airstrikes in Syria in the past years to prevent the transfer of weapons to the Hezbollah militant organization in Lebanon.




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