Russia Offers To Keep Pro-Iran Forces 100 Kilometers From Israeli Border

24 July, 2018, 23:23 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office

The Syrian government also condemned Israel for its role in the evacuation of hundreds of members of the opposition's Syria Civil Defense, a rescue group better known as the White Helmets.

Ghunaimat also said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Sunday discussed "preliminary ideas" about the possible return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, but that "we can not talk about return while the crisis in Syria is not yet over".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief video statement on Sunday he had helped the evacuation at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders - and there had been fears that the workers' lives were at risk.

Both Tehran and Moscow are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.

Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, works to rescue those wounded by attacks in rebel-held territory.

The civil war in Syria has dragged on for more than seven years, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and an unrelenting humanitarian crisis.

The source repeated the Syrian government's accusation that the rescue force is a front group for "terrorists" and said Damascus had warned the world of its "dangers".

"Since our formation, 251 volunteers have been killed in the line of duty, the majority from "double-tap strikes", the group said.

Those saved are expected to be resettled in Europe and Canada, with Germany - which has provided the White Helmets with €12m (£10m) since 2016 - confirming it would give asylum to eight rescuers and 39 family members.

Throughout the day, Reuters witnesses on the Golan Heights heard explosions and saw plumes of smoke rising from Syrian territory.

Last week, Russia's Defense Ministry said it proposed to the United States the creation of a joint group, along with Jordan, to organize refugee returns.

Netanyahu said the Russian Federation delegation came to Israel on short notice at Putin's request to discuss the situation in Syria, where the Syrian army has been rapidly reasserting control over rebel-held areas of the southwest near Israel's border under surrender agreements brokered by Russian Federation.

Netanyahu said they were to discuss regional developments with "the situation in Syria being first and foremost".

However, Reuters cited an Israeli official as saying that while Russian Federation was "committed" to its offer, Netanyahu rejected it and told Lavrov: "We will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border" because Iran has long-range missiles that can reach Israel from Syria.

In Monday's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Mr Netanyahu turned down a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 kilometres from the border, according to an Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The group would be linked to a U.S. -Russian-Jordanian center set up past year in Jordan for monitoring a cease-fire in southwest Syria, said Major-General Milkahil Mizintsev. Israel will continue to act against any attempts by Iran and its satellites aimed at establishing military presence in Syria, Netanyahu stressed.

The two men met Monday in Jerusalem at the request of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, together with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Russian military chief of general staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov and the rest of the Russian delegation.



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