By Jerusalem Post—
The United States, Russia and Israel have reportedly reached a consensus on the need to restrict and eventually expel pro-Iranian forces from gaining influence in Syria, the Kuwati daily newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Arab outlet, has reached an understanding with Washington and Moscow that pro-Iranian forces, including Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, constitute an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.
This threat, therefore, necessitates Israeli action in Syria, including conducting airstrikes and other assaults to keep weapons and advancing militias as far as possible from Israel’s northern border.
According to anonymous US officials who spoke to the Kuwaiti publication, Israel’s targeting of pro-Iranian forces in the South of Syria is being accompanied by Russian pressure in the center and North to help stabilize the country. Russia is also reportedly open to withdrawing its forces in certain areas, leaving the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar Assad to take over.
Israel hopes, with the help of Russia and the United States, that this pressure will help weaken pro-Iranian military entities to the point where they can be removed from the battle-scarred nation.
But Iran’s meddling in the Syrian Civil War, which has raged for nearly six-years now and has claimed over 400,000 lives, makes that a difficult proposition, one US senior official told Al-Rai. Theran helped prop up the Assad regime soon after civil strife broke out in 2011, giving them a foothold in Damascus.
This has officials in Jerusalem worried, who loath to see a Iranian presence so close to Israeli territory. So It remains to be seen what calculations Assad and Russia have for the pro-Iranian presence in Syria and whether or not their influence can be abated.
Israel has publicly admitted that it has previously conducted assaults in Syria, an unusual step for a country known for its reticence concerning military operations.
Just recently, while on a state visit to China, Netanyahu reiterated that the Israel Air Force will continue to execute missions in Syria to contain threats against the country, and said he made this clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders met in Moscow earlier this month.
“We attack if we have information and have operational feasibility,” Netanyahu stated, adding: “This will continue.”