Despite Iran’s statements that the country has only been providing military advisory support to Bashar al-Assad’s government, senior Israeli officials have on numerous occasions said that Tel Aviv will not let Tehran gain a military foothold in Syria.
In light of the strained relations between Israel and Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Vladimir Putin on July 11 to yet again state that Tel Aviv will not tolerate Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.
“This week I will fly to Moscow for an important meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We meet from time-to-time in order to ensure security coordination and, of course, to discuss regional development,” he said.
He further stated that he would emphasize the two “basic principles” of Israel’s policy at the meeting:
“First, we will not tolerate the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies anywhere in Syria – not close to the border and far away from it. Second, we will demand that Syria, and the Syrian military, strictly uphold the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement*,” he said.
It is self-evident that I am in regular contact with the American administration. These links with the two great powers are very important to the security of Israel at all times and especially at present.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) July 8, 2018
Iran’s role in Syria was rumored to be addressed at the July 16 summit between Putin and President Donald Trump in Helsinki. Last week, the US president’s National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that the landmark meeting would offer the possibility of a “larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria.” The reports, however, were dismissed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as “untrue.”
Israel has repeatedly expressed concern over Iran’s alleged attempt to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, thus expanding its influence across the region. Tehran has consistently denied the claims, emphasizing that the country has only been sending military advisers at the request of the Syrian government to train troops loyal to Damascus in their fight against terror.
Iran Will Remain in Syria
During the meeting with Palestinian Ambassador to Tehran Salah al-Zawawi, the Iranian parliamentary speaker’s special adviser on international affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Tehran would continue providing “decisive support” for Syria in its fight against terrorism.
He said that Israel “tries to gain dominance over Syria after Daesh, but resistance forces and military advisers from the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue their presence alongside Syria to counter terrorism.”
*1974 Separation of Forces Agreement is an agreement on disengagement between Israel and Syria, which officially ended the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.