Israelis fail to secure US guarantees on Iranian threat in Syria

August 22, 2017

Source: Israelis fail to secure US guarantees on Iranian threat in Syria

IDF forces training in the north. (Barak Chen/IDF Spokesperson Unit)

US officials reportedly refrained from pledging to insist on the the removal of pro-Iranian militias at Israel’s border with Syria. 

Israel remains concerned about Iran’s military buildup in southern Syria, at Israel’s northern border, despite high-level discussions between US and Israeli security officials in Washington last week.

The Israeli delegation that visited Washington included Yossi Cohen, head of Mossad and IDF Military Intelligence. The team, which met with US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, Chief Negotiator Jason Greenblatt and others, was reportedly discouraged by the position taken by the US on Syria.

The delegation was sent to the US to warn against the military deployments by Hezbollah, Iranian forces and the Syrian regime, and to tell the US “exactly what is going on there,” according to officials. Such a military buildup directly threatens Israel.

 Trump Administration’s ‘Lack of Clear Position’

Israeli media reports noted that the delegation shared “sensitive, credible and deeply troubling intelligence,” showing the expanding deployment of pro-Iranian forces in Syria, which estimates put at 500 Iranian army soldiers, 5,000 Hezbollah terrorists and several thousand guerrillas from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

American officials reportedly refrained from pledging to insist on the removal of all pro-Iranian militias from Syria in the ceasefire talks currently underway with Russia. Delegation members noted “a kind of embarrassment and lack of a clear position” among Trump administration officials regarding America’s commitments in Syria and the Middle East.

The Israeli report noted concern that the US could be hamstrung on the Syrian issue due to “the domestic problems President Trump is currently mired in, as well as the crisis with North Korea.”

Netanyahu to Discuss Developments with Putin

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, to discuss developments in the region, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

 Russia is a signatory to the ceasefire agreement signed during the G20 summit in July between the US and Jordan, according to which Moscow is responsible for ensuring that forces under its influence—the Syrian regime, Iran and Iranian proxies—abide by its terms.

The unresolved issues include who would guarantee the arrangements in the de-escalation zones, prevent the entry of Iranian, Hezbollah or Shi’ite militia forces, and monitor the ceasefire, and are expected to be high on the agenda for the Netanyahu-Putin meeting.

“Israel has no objection to a (peace) agreement in Syria, but we are firmly opposed to such an agreement in which Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu told Putin in May.

Credit: The Tower via BICOM

 

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