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Netanyahu Calls On Putin To Encourage Iranian Forces To Leave Syria

Russian President and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2-L) attend the Victory Day military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, 09 May 2018.

A senior Israeli official says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin “to encourage Iranian forces to leave Syria,” Reuters reported on July 11.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has reportedly assured Russia that its ally Syrian President Basahar al-Assad would be safe from Israel.

"They (Russia) have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out. These can clash or it can align," Reuters quoted the Israeli official as saying.

"We won't take action against the Assad regime," the official quoted Netanyahu as telling Putin in Moscow, and added the Israeli leader came away reassured that "they (Russia) are getting the Iranians out".

Netanyahu has been in Moscow on Wednesday to hold a meeting with Putin on Iranian forces withdrawal from Syria.

He had told Israeli media earlier on the same day that Israel will not tolerate Iranian military presence anywhere in Syria.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top international relations adviser Ali Akbar Velayati also arrived in Moscow on Wednesday preparing for a meeting with Putin on Thursday when he is going to deliver a letter from the Islamic Republic’s leader.

Velayati told reporters in Moscow that his visit has nothing to do with Netanyahu’s presence in Moscow and that he was there simply “to emphasize the expansion of mutual ties with Moscow.”

Earlier this year, Russian officials called on all foreign forces including Iranians to leave Syrian territory. Iran ruled out Russia’s suggestion at the time.

The Kremlin did not comment on Velayati’s remarks or on what was cited as remarks by Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Israel sot down what it described as a Syrian drone flying towards Israeli held Golan Heights.

According to Reuters, “Israel has been on high alert as Assad's forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan Heights.”

Throughout the civil war in Syria, Moscow has turned a blind eye to Israeli air strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah deployments or arms transfers, while making clear it wanted Assad kept immune.