Netanyahu challenges Putin over Iranian presence in Syria


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin at his summer residence in Sochi today. 

There was one issue on the agenda – Iran and its deepening presence in Syria. 

In the three-hour meeting, during which Mr Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, he told Mr Putin that “the victory over Isis (in Syria) is a good thing. 

"The entry of Iran there is not a good thing, which endangers us, the region and I think the world." 

Russia has for nearly two years partnered Iran in Syria in order to prop up the Assad regime in Damascus. 

Israel’s chief concern is that with the situation in Syria beginning to stabilise, the Iranians will establish permanent strongholds there, threatening Israel’s northern border and emboldening its chief proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. 

These concerns have deepened recently as Russia and the United States endorsed a new ceasefire agreement which does not specify any limits on Iranian activities in Syria. 

Mr Cohen was also a member of the Israeli delegation that travelled last week to Washington to confer with the heads of the United States’ security and intelligence community on the Iranian presence in Syria. 

While the Trump administration is seen as being much closer to Israel than its predecessor, there has been growing disquiet in Jerusalem over the last few weeks over what it seems is a lack of attention in the administration to Israel’s concerns over Syria. 

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