Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Tuesday that the Israeli military operates in Syria “from time to time” to prevent the transfer of weapons into the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon.
Speaking at the Galilee Conference in Acre, Netanyahu confirmed Israel’s presence in the war ravaged country while praising ongoing Israeli-Russian coordination efforts in Syria.
“We operate in Syria from time to time to prevent it turning into another front against us,” he said. “We act, of course, to prevent the transfer of deadly weaponry from Syria to Lebanon.”
Netanyahu’s comments were made one day after he and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Paris at a climate conference. Both leaders agreed to further military cooperation between the two nations.
Over the last five years, numerous airstrikes in Syria have been attributed to Israel, who has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.
The prime minister’s comments echo earlier statements made by the Israeli leader when he said, on November 10, “if Hezbollah wants to transfer weapons through Syria, we’ll take action, as we have.”
During the conference, Netanyahu explained that Israel was taking special steps not to step on the toes of Russian and US-led coalition forces operating in Syria. “I hope Israel and Russia see eye-to-eye on the strategic issues and I want to promise you that we can achieve very good land and air coordination,” he said.
He praised the “caution” taken by both armies to avoid friendly-fire incidents, saying, “I think this is an indication of openness and of the success of ties between Israel and Russia.”
On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon revealed that Israel was “keeping an eye out” for the likelihood that Hezbollah attained chemical weapons in Syria. He said that the Russians were aware of what actions emanating from Syria would cause Israel to respond.
According to Ya’alon, Russian officials have committed to allowing Israel to respond as necessary. “We are acting in accordance with needs. Anyone who infringes on our sovereignty – we act against them,” he said. “Anyone who attempts to transfer advanced weaponry to terrorist organization, with an emphasis on Hezbollah – we will not allow it.”