A delegation from America’s National Security Council has flown to Israel for talks on the recently reached U.S.-Russia-Jordan cease-fire agreement in Syria.
The agreement, announced last Saturday, calls for “the reduction, and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from southern Syria. Yet an Israeli official who was briefed on the cease-fire said that the distances for Iran-backed forces in Syria from Israel’s border would range from as close as 3-4 miles to as far as 18 miles, Reuters reported.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that Israel will not be constrained by the deal.
“I have clarified to our friends in Washington and our friends in Moscow that we will operate in Syria, including southern Syria, in accordance with our understanding and in accordance with our security needs,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel’s security policy will comprise “the right combination of firmness and responsibility.”
During the last few months, Netanyahu has intensively lobbied Russia and the Trump administration for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel and Syria, to keep Iranian forces and the Hezbollah terror group away from the Jewish state.
According to reports, Israel had demanded a buffer zone in Syria of 37-50 miles from the countries’ border in the Golan Heights. But Russia has not promised the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria. Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov said that the presence of Iran in Syria is “legitimate,” according to Russia’s Interfax News Agency.