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Assad and Netanyahu reportedly exchange threats and overtures

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Sochi on August 23, 2017.
AFP Photo/Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky
The reported exchanges come after a flurry of meetings on Syria led by Russia president Vladimir Putin

Over the last week Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Syrian president Bashar Al Assad reportedly conveyed messages to each other through third parties -- including via Russia’s Vladimir Putin -- a Kuwaiti newspaper and Israeli TV station reported on Sunday.

Last week Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the future of country, wracked by a six-years long civil war triggered by his violent putting down of protests against his family’s 48 years of authoritarian rule.

Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida, citing a Western source briefed by an Israeli official, reported that Assad offered concessions to Israel within the framework of a deal to the end the war and leave him in power.

The Syrian president reportedly offered to demilitarize a buffer zone stretching 40 kilometers into Syria from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights, the scene of sporadic exchanges of fire between the two countries and battles between the regime and rebels, including jihadist groups.

Handout (SANA/AFP)

The front page article also claimed that Assad put on the table autonomy within a unified Syria for the Kurdish and Druze minority.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Hadashot, formerly Channel Two, reported that Netanyahu sent his own message to the Syrian regime through a “third party”.

Without citing any sources, the channel’s Middle East analyst said that the Israeli premier sent a message to his Syrian foe that if he allowed Iran to establish militarily in the country, he would put himself in danger.

Netanyahu reportedly added that Israel may drop its policy of non-interference in the Syrian civil war if they felt it necessary.

Despite Israel professing such a policy, Israel has reportedly carried out numerous air strikes on targets inside Syria over the last several years, chiefly targeting weapons and other supplies it considered destined for Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

JACK GUEZ (AFP/File)

The message reportedly conveyed to Assad was also made publicly by the prime minister on November 13.

"I have made it clear to our friends, first of all in Washington and also to our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria -- including in southern Syria -- according to our understanding and according to our security needs," Netanyahu told senior members of his Likud party.

Israel was left disappointed by a deal thrashed out by Russia, the United States and Jordan to create a demilitarized zone near the Israeli border.

Officials believe the agreement does not exclude Iranian forces from coming close to its territory.

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