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Netanyahu, Putin agree to meet after downing of Russian plane over Syria

Le président russe Vladimir Poutine et le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou
AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to meet to discuss continued military coordination in Syria, after the accidental downing of a Russian plane led to a strain in ties.

“A short time ago I spoke with President Putin. We agreed to meet soon in order to continue the important inter-military security coordination,” Netanyahu said at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.

The meeting would be the first since ties between Moscow and Jerusalem hit a snag over the accidental downing of a Russian jet by Syrian air defenses last month during an Israeli air raid in Latakia province, killing 15 Russian serviceman.

Putin and Netanyahu have spoken at least three times by phone since the September 17 incident.

Blaming Israel over the incident, Russia transferred its advanced S-300 missile defense system to Syria -- a move Israel branded “irresponsible”.

Netanyahu nonetheless reiterated that Israel would continue to act “at all times to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon."

Russia, which is backing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's government forces in the country's civil war, has largely given Israeli warplanes a free hand over Syrian skies turning a blind eye to frequent strikes on Iranian positions and convoys transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the Iranian backed proxy operating in Syria.

But the delivery of the S-300 to Syria makes Israeli jets far more vulnerable in any future operations in the country.

In the wake of the delivery of the game-changing surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria, Russia has reportedly been seeking to establish communication channels between Israel and Iran “in order to reduce tensions and friction” in Syrian territory, according to a report in Arabic language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

A senior Russian official speaking to the paper did not rule out Moscow’s diplomatic arm playing the “role of the mediator” in order to prevent further conflict and reduce tensions.

Deemed to be more efficient and advanced than any other interceptor missile system currently in Syrian possession, the S-300 can intercept not only planes but also ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 250 kilometers and at a very high altitude.

The S-300 system and the more advanced S-400 have been operational in Syria since 2016 but have only been used to protect Russian apparatus.

Israel together with the United States have vociferously opposed the decision by Russia to supply weaponry to Syria which they claim could exacerbate an already volatile situation and could impede Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in the region.

Comments

(2)

I want, during this meeting, to see being raised: 1-The establishment of an Israeli-Russian communication channel between their two military air forces as long as Russia is still present in Syria; 2-The prospect of a withdrawal of Iranian troops and those of its militias from Syrian territory.

This downing was ordered by Khamenei.

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