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Israel held secret talks with Russia, US over 'safe zones' in Syria: report

A Syrian walks past a mosque and destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Arbin, east of Damascus, on July 25, 2017, following an air strike the previous night
ABDULMONAM EASSA (AFP)
Israel warned that Syria could turn into a base for missiles to be launched into Israel, Jordan

Secrets talks over ‘safe zones’ in Syria were held between Israel, the United States and Russia in early July, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

During the meetings, Israel reportedly expressed objection to a cease fire deal, later announced by the United States and Russia. According to the report, Israel asserted the powers should focus on eliminating Iran’s involvement in Syria.

The secret talks were held in Amman and an unnamed European capital.

Officials who asked to remain anonymous told Haaretz that top members of Israeli government and security forces took part in the meetings including representatives from the Israeli Mossad and Ministry of Defense.  

The ceasefire deal was announced on July 8 after an eagerly anticipated first meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Americans and Russians were focused on establishing safe zones in the region in order to concentrate on defeating the Islamic State while Israel thought, tactically, the powers should be focused on a longer term strategy and removing Iran’s influence from the region.

Israeli officials reportedly told the Americans and Russians that they should demand Iranians, the Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and the Shi’ite militias leave Syria.

Israel argued that, if Iran remained in Syria, it would become a base for missiles being launched into Israel and Jordan.

When the Americans and the Russians announced the cease-fire agreement on July 8, Israeli officials were reportedly shocked to discover that it contradicted all the points Israel had argued for during the meetings. 

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