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Israel Wants U.S. To Ensure Iranian Forces Don't Stay In Syria, Minister Tells Reuters

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz

Israel is seeking an "understanding" with the Trump administration that Iran must not be allowed to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria, Israel's intelligence minister told Reuters in an interview on April 26.

Yisrael Katz, who was visiting Washington, said he was pressing White House officials and key lawmakers to impose further U.S. sanctions on Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hizballah, which is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"I want to achieve an understanding, an agreement between the U.S. and Israel...not to let Iran have permanent military forces in Syria, by air, by land, by sea," Katz told Reuters, saying this should be part of any future peace deal ending Syria's six-yearcivil war.

Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, insisted, however, that Israel was not asking Washington to commit more forces to Syria, but to "achieve this by talking to the Russians, by threatening Iran, by sanctions and other things."

Israeli officials have estimated that its archfoe Iran commands at least 25,000 fighters in Syria, including members of its own Revolutionary Guard, Shi'ite militias from Iraq, and recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Based on reporting by Reuters