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Russia unlikely to 'limit Israeli actions' in Syria, Netanyahu says

Israel's PM travelled to Moscow for talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 May, 2018

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Israel's military has struck targets in Syria more than 100 times since 2012, largely targeting weapons convoys intended for Lebanon's Hizballah group.

Russia is unlikely to attempt to limit Israel's military actions in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Netanyahu headed to Moscow for talks with Putin, hours after US President Donald Trump announced he would pull out of the historic Iran nuclear deal.

Netanyahu and Putin have held a series of meetings and phone conversations in recent months, mainly over Syria and the involvement there of Israel's arch-rival Iran in the war-torn country.

"Given what is happening in Syria at this very moment, there is a need to ensure the continuation of military coordination between the Russian military and the Israel Defence Forces," Netanyahu told reporters.

"In previous meetings, given statements that were putatively attributed to - or were made by - the Russian side, it was meant to have limited our freedom of action or harm other interests and that didn't happen, and I have no basis to think that this time will be different."

There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.

Since Russia intervened in the Syrian war to back President Bashar al-Assad in 2015 it has largely turned a blind eye to Israeli military strikes.

Israel's military has struck targets in Syria more than 100 times since 2012, largely targeting weapons convoys intended for Lebanon's Hizballah group.

But Moscow condemned a 9 April airstrike that killed seven Iranian military personnel, leading to speculation that Russian patience might be wearing thin.

On 29 April, suspected Israeli missile strikes fired on regime military positions killed at least 26 mostly Iranian fighters.

Overnight, eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

In an interview late last month, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to strike at any attempt by Iran to establish a "military foothold" in Syria.

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