Netanyahu: Iranian weapon transfers to Syria declined since downed Russian plane
(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Russia would not be able to act unilaterally to remove Iran from Syria.
Speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu also said that Iranian weapons transfers to Syria has significantly downed since the downing of the Russian plane in September.
The premier also revealed that Israel had continued to act in Syria since the incident, in which Syrian air defense shot down a Russian plane with 17 onboard amidst Israeli airstrikes.
“Our spy-planes continue to fly and collect information,” Netanyahu said. “From the information we have, the amount of Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah through Syria has significantly dropped since the downing of the Russian plane.”
Addressing the Iranian presence in Syria, Netanyahu reportedly suggested that another country besides Russia would need to get involved in order to remove the threat.
Denying reports of tensions between the two countries, Netanyahu said Monday that relations with Russia were “good” and he had an “excellent” phone conversation with Putin that lasted half an hour. “I offered to him an increase in coordination between our armies in Russia. Despite that, we are continuing to operate in Syria.”
Relations have soured between Russia and Israel ever since the downed plane incident.
After conducting an analysis of the incident, the Russian defense ministry concluded that the blame for the disaster lay "entirely with the Israeli air force."
"The Israeli jets saw the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 and used it as a shield against the [Syrian] anti-aircraft missiles, while they carried on maneuvering in the region," the state-run RT network quoted ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov as saying.
But Israel insists they did not use the Russian plane as a shield, and Syrian irresponsibility and negligence were to blame for the incident.
The Israeli premier has reportedly been pursuing a meeting with Putin for months in vain.
The two leaders both attended the Paris Peace Forum, but reports differed over whether the two leaders actually met.
Original reports said the leaders met, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying they held a “short talk” without specifying further.
According to recent Russian reports, Putin refused to meet with Netanyahu, and the two just spoke on the phone, which the Israeli premier had summarized as "good and to the point," adding that he "would say that it was very important."
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