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Israeli PM to meet Putin to discuss Iranian military presence in Syria

Israeli PM to meet Putin to discuss Iranian military presence in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

Jerusalem [Israel]: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday and urge him to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.

According to Xinhua news agency, Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting that he hopes to reach “understandings” with Putin on Iran’s role in any future agreement to end the war in Syria.

“In the context of this agreement, or without it, Iran is trying to establish itself permanently in Syria, with a military presence on the ground and at sea, and also a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights,” said Netanyahu.

“I will express to President Putin Israel’s sharp and vigorous opposition to this possibility. I hope we will be able to reach certain understandings to reduce possible friction between our forces and theirs, as we have successfully done up until now,” he added.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has aided its close ally, Syria, in the seven-year civil war.

Israel has been formally neutral in the war but has reportedly carried out several airstrikes in the neighboring Syria.

Israeli leaders have pointed to Iran’s steadily increasing influence in the region during the conflict.

In April, Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time that Israel had launched “dozens” of airstrikes in Syria in the past years to prevent the transfer of weapons to the Hezbollah militant organization in Lebanon. (ANI)