By Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post—
Russia and Israel have reached an agreement on the removal of Iranian forces at least 85 kilometers from Israel’s Golan Heights, Russia’s special envoy for Syria told the Sputnik news agency on Wednesday.
“As we took into account the Israeli concerns, we managed to attain the pullout of Iranian units 85 kilometers from the Israeli[-Syrian] border,” Russian Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said.
According to Lavrentyev, Russia is “certain” that Israeli concerns over the presence of pro-Iranian forces near its border with Syria are decreasing.
Jerusalem has repeatedly said it would not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria. Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, have met with their Russian counterparts numerous times in recent weeks to stress the importance of preventing such a presence.
Last month, Israel refused a Russian offer to keep Iranian troops in Syria 100 km. from Israel’s border, with officials stating that Israel wanted Iranian troops to fully withdraw from Syria, something Russia warned would be unrealistic.
Russia views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria and has repeatedly emphasized the Islamic Republic’s importance in the war-torn country.
“They are playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria,” Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov told Channel 10 on Tuesday. Continue Reading…