Russia concerned about military confrontation between Israel and Iran

Source: Russia concerned about military confrontation between Israel and Iran – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

We do everything possible to prevent the escalation of the conflict” Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 JULY 19, 2018 10:42
ON THE march. A poster of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad who is allied with Russia and Iran.

Moscow is concerned by a possible military escalation between Iran and Israel and is doing everything possible to prevent a conflict between them, Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan said in an interview with Russian daily Kommersant on Wednesday.

“Sometimes conflicts arise, and we are naturally concerned about the possibility of military confrontation between the Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria. We do everything possible to prevent it. To prevent the escalation of the conflict,” he was quoted as saying.

Dzhagaryan told the paper that Iran is a “friendly country”  and “one of our key partners” which cooperates with Russia in “various spheres” such as ending the war in Syria and that Iran’s presence in the war-torn country is legitimate because it was invited by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Iran is not a country that you can put pressure on. This is a big state, pursuing an independent foreign policy. Work with Iranians can only be a method of persuasion,” Dzhagaryan said.

Tensions between the two foes has risen in recent months and Jerusalem has repeatedly said it would not allow Iran to set up a permanent presence in Syria.

Israeli officials, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, have met with their Russian counterparts , both in Russia and in Israel, numerous times in recent weeks to stress the importance of this point.”

Last week Liberman reiterated Israel’s concerns, stressing that the “the Iranian presence in Syria is unreasonable, and we are not prepared to accept an Iranian presence in Syria anywhere, and as you have heard more than once, we will act against any Iranian consolidation in Syria.”

In recent weeks Syrian government forces backed by Russian air-power have been retaking large swathes of territory on the Syrian Golan Heights from rebel groups along the Israeli border.  Iranian forces and affiliated Shiite militias are also said to be playing a minor role in the offensive.

Due to the offensive and the Shiite forces creeping steadily to the border, the IDF reinforced the Golan Division with additional armor and artillery ready to protect Israel’s border “until the last millimeter.”

Last week in a joint press conference in Helsinki with US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin agree on securing Israel’s border with Syria in accordance with the  1974  Separation of Forces Agreement following the Yom Kippur War.

Doing so, Putin said, would bring “peace to [the] Golan Heights and bring a more peaceful relationship between Syria and Israel, and also to provide security of the State of Israel.”

Moscow intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 and as an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow finds itself part of an alliance between Damascus and Tehran, the patron of Hezbollah. Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.

Israel believes that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Corps and Quds forces have continued to entrench themselves in Syria despite strikes against Iranian targets attributed to Israel, the most recent being last week in Syria’s Aleppo province.

Israeli intelligence estimates there are thousands of Iranian advisers and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers in Syria, some 9000 Shiite militia fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and another 7,000 Hezbollah fighters.

Israel and Russia implemented a deconfliction mechanism system over Syria to prevent accidental clashes between the two militaries and, according to Liberman, the deconfliction mechanism with Russia is “a connection that proves itself.”

“It is clear that each side has its own interests. Each side sees the picture differently. In the years of civil war in Syria, we were able to avoid direct friction, and that is an achievement in itself,” he said in February. “This is an effective relationship.”

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