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Netanyahu says ties with Russia good, doesn't join criticism of Syria attacks

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a 2013 meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow
Alexei Nikolsky (Ria-Novosti/AFP)
Israeli PM unsure how intervention will affect situation;Erdogan urges Putin to reconsider Syria bombing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he unsure how Russia's recent military intervention in Syria will affect the situation there, but insisted that Jerusalem and Moscow were on good terms. 

"We don't want to go back to the days when, you know, Russia and Israel were in an adversarial position," said Netanyahu in an interview recorded for broadcast on Sunday on "CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. "I think we've changed the relationship. And it's, on the whole, good." 

Russia bombed the Islamic State group's Syrian stronghold Saturday and vowed to press its aerial campaign despite criticism from Washington and its allies that the military action is strengthening the jihadists.

A long-time staunch backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia began sorties over its ally Wednesday in what it said would be a prolonged bombing campaign against IS and other extremist groups.

Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow late last month as part of an attempt to address Israel's concerns about confrontations that could possibly occur between Israeli troops and Russian forces active in Syria.

"I went to Moscow to make it clear that we should avoid a clash between Russian forces and Israeli forces," Netanyahu said during the interview, according to Reuters

"In Syria, I've defined my goals. They're to protect the security of my people and my country. Russia has different goals. But they shouldn't clash."

The Israeli prime minister did not join the United States and other NATO nations in criticizing Russia's taking military action in Syria.

Erdogan urges Putin to change mind over Syria bombing

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday urged Putin to reconsider Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria, accusing the Russian military of turning a blind eye to the killing of dozens of civilians.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera Arabic, Erdogan expressed anger that whereas Moscow had informed Ankara it would be attacking Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria, it had in fact targeted moderate Syrian rebels.

"I will definitely speak to Putin... I will express my sadness over this matter," said Erdogan in a transcript of the interview published by the official Anatolia news agency.

"Since we are two friendly countries, I'll ask them to review the steps they have taken regarding this matter and what they have done."

Erdogan complained that as a state with a 911 kilometer (566 mile) border with Syria and hosting almost two million Syrian refugees, it was Turkey who would bear the brunt of Moscow's actions.

"It's us who suffer in the face of the region's problems. Russia doesn't have a border with Syria. I'm troubled by what is happening now."

"We are hosting two million people now. They haven't gone to Russia."

Erdogan added: "I want to understand why Russia is so interested in Syria."

Erdogan said Turkey had "received information" that 65 people had been killed in Russia's air strikes on Syria, without specifying further on how the toll was calculated.

Erdogan said that Moscow had informed Ankara through a letter to its embassy that there would be an anti-IS Russian operation in Syria.

But echoing concerns from Ankara's Western allies, he accused Moscow of carrying out air strikes not against IS but against moderate Syrian forces opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"They are turning a blind eye to the fact that civilians have been killed," said Erdogan.

Russia and Turkey have long been at loggerheads over the crisis in Syria, with Moscow emerging as Assad's key international backer and Ankara urging his ousting as the only solution to the conflict.

Russia says it has launched a campaign against "terrorist" groups in Syria including IS but also its jihadist rival, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front, and other groups.

(With AFP)

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