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Friday, July 7, 2017

Report: Netanyahu calls Putin to discuss Syria buffer zone

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an urgent phone call on Thursday discussed creating an extended buffer zone in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Times of London reported.
 
The new buffer zone would extend to 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of the Golan Heights, and include the Syrian towns of Daraa and As-Suwaida. Neither Iran nor Hezbollah would be allowed into the buffer zone
 
However, it would not be controlled by Russia.
 
According to the report, Israeli authorities are concerned Syria will end up being divided, with some areas held by Russia and Iran and others held by rebels, competing powers, and Kurdish-led groups. The report also said the Israelis were "present on the sidelines of talks in Amman between the Americans and the Russians to negotiate the future of southern Syria."
 
"Israel fears that the US might withdraw, leaving Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah to establish themselves in the south of the country, including along the Golan border," the report said, adding that Netanyahu had also discussed the issue with the US.
 
Russia's Foreign Ministry said the call was "at the Israeli side's initiative" and that "Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria."