Russian Federation should let Israel attack Iranians in Syria: US envoy

Blanche Robertson
November 8, 2018

Israel's Environmental Protection Minister, Ze'ev Elkin, warned Russian Federation on Tuesday that its newly deployed missile defense system in Syria would be the target of airstrikes if Bashar al-Assad's army decides to make use of it against Israeli airplanes conducting operations in the war torn country.

The Israeli minister thus echoed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said that Israel will not alter its policy in Syria, following the shooting down of the Russian plane. "We certainly hope that that permissive approach will continue", James Jeffrey, Washington's special representative to Syria said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

After Russia entered the Syrian war in 2015, backing Assad against rebels, Jerusalem and Moscow opened a direct communication line to avoid any clashes when Israeli airplanes were carrying out airstrikes. Israel regards the Islamic republic as its most unsafe enemy and has staged repeated air raids against its military and allied militia deployed in Syria.

He said: "We are concerned very much about the S-300 system being deployed to Syria".

The Syrian forces were responding to an Israeli air raid against a suspected weapons depot linked to Iran in western Syria. "We understand the existential interest and we support Israel", Jeffrey said.

Lavrov told El Pais that Israel had not always lived up to its obligations under the deconfliction agreement, even prior to the September 17th incident.

Lavrov also said that Moscow regrets that the Western countries rejected the idea of Russian President Vladimir Putin to create an global counter-terrorism coalition under the auspices of the United Nations.

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But Russia has changed that Israel on September 17th failed to notify Moscow of its aerial movements in Syria, It has alleging that Israeli jets hid behind a Russian reconnaissance plane, which was then shot down by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile, causing the death of 17 crew members.

"Our immediate effort is to try to calm that situation down and then move on to a long-term solution", the U.S. envoy said with regards to the fallout between Moscow and Tel Aviv.

Israel is inflaming the region with its military actions particularly in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this week, signaling that tensions remain between Moscow and Israel. Turkey has staged two incursions into northern Syria since 2016 aimed at curbing the role of Kurdish forces that the United States is supporting against Islamic State.

"Military operations can not resolve Israeli security concerns but will only help increase regional tensions", Lavrov said in an interview with Spain's El Pais newspaper.

Jefferey noted that forcing Iran to leave Syria was an objective of Trump's campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic, which seeks to end Tehran's ballistic missile and nuclear energy programs while forcing it to roll back its regional influence.

Iran has said it will stay in Syria as long as Assad wants it to.

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