Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Netanyahu: Putin understands our motives in Syria

Netanyahu: Putin understands our motives in Syria

Addressing the weekly cabinet meeting, he said that in his meetings last week with three key world leaders-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May-he chose to focus on Iranian aggression in the region in general, but first and foremost on Iran's attempts to gain a military foothold in Syria.

Russian Federation has hinted that Iran should not remain near Israel's northern border. "This was the goal of the trip and it was, to a large extent, achieved", Netanyahu said.

"That's very natural, but at the end the only decision about what's going on in Syria and what's going to happen, it's a Syrian decision", Assad said.

Netanyahu did not mention in the cabinet meeting that each of the leaders also made clear publicly that they continue to support the Iranian nuclear agreement which Israel adamantly opposes, and which the USA withdrew from last month.

On Wednesday, a senior diplomatic official told Israeli media that France, Britain and Germany reached a "general agreement" regarding the removal of Iranian forces from Syria.

Netanyahu said that Iran withdrawing from Syria was a "prerequisite" for Syria's rehabilitation and for its prosperity, and even for stability in the Middle East as a whole.

Alongside Russia, Iran-backed forces in Syria have helped Assad drive rebels from the country's biggest cities and reclaim swathes of the eastern deserts from Islamic State.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied that military ally Russian Federation was making decisions for him, but said it was natural for there to be differences of opinion between allies, in an interview published on June 10 by state media.

Iranian officials have not denied their forces were pulling out of the region bordering Israel, but have insisted they are in Syria for the long haul.

In the interview, Assad also said he expects the war in his country to be over in "less than a year" and re-stated his aim to take back "every inch" of Syria.

It is suspected of carrying out numerous raids on Syrian government positions and Hezbollah weapons caches over the years, and last month announced unprecedented strikes on what it said were Tehran-operated bases in Syria.

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