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Russia: Lavrov says Syrian troops only should control southern border

Russia: Lavrov says Syrian troops only should control southern border

In this endeavour it has formidable obstacles to overcome: "the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran, which Israel regards as its most implacable state foe; other enemies, particularly Hizbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias, are entrenched in Syria with Russia's blessing; and the US, notwithstanding the Trump administration's strident rhetoric, has done little to reverse Iran's gains", reads a February report from the International Crisis Group.

For its part, Russian Federation agreed with Israel's right to self-defense, according to a report broadcast Monday by Israel's Channel 13 television news.

"The result of the ongoing work should be a situation in which troops of the Syrian armed forces will be stationed alongside the Syrian border with Israel", he said, without specifying which which countries back these rebel groups.

The United States, Russia, and Jordan agreed past year to include Daraa in a "de-escalation zone" and freeze the lines of conflict there. But the area has been tense following a series of recent Israeli strikes on Syrian and Iranian forces.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, said Lavrov's comments come amid ongoing worldwide negotiations aimed at avoiding a military escalation in this part of Syria that could involve regional powers. Israel has made it clear that it will not intervene in the battles in the tri-border area, as long as Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias are not involved.

"We have well-known agreements concerning the southwestern de-escalation zone", he said. Senior political figures in both countries are said to have reached an understanding over a framework to ensure Israel's security.

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Israel is increasingly optimistic that it may be coming close to its longheld goal of driving a wedge between Russian Federation and Iran in Syria, a senior Israeli official said today.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in remarks to the Knesset on Monday that Iran should be pressured to leave Syria altogether.

Following Lavrov's statement, the Israeli PM asserted that there is no place for Iran's military forces in Syria.

Netanyahu said he would press German and French leaders ti support his position during a European tour next week, with talks expected to focus on the United States decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal - long-sought by Israel - and the Iranian presence in Syria. "This will be the main focus of my discussions", Netanyahu said.

Iran is estimated to have thousands of advisers and fighters in Syria as well as a number of bases, which have become regular targets for Israeli attacks.

On 10 May, Israel launched a wave of air strikes on Syria in response to what Israeli officials said was Iranian rocket fire on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and claimed to have destroyed most of Iran's military infrastructure in the process. "I think they understand that if the Iranians continue on the present course this will lead to escalation and will blow their plans out of the water".


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