During a trilateral meeting between the national security advisers of Israel, the US and Russia in late June, Jerusalem and Washington demanded that Moscow ensure the withdrawal of Iran’s forces from Lebanon and Iraq, as well as from Syria, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday.
The demand was seen as a condition for US and Israeli support for a long-term arrangement to secure peace in war-ravaged Syria.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat specifically mentioned Iran’s construction of precision missile facilities for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its arming of Shiite militias in Iraq with long-range missiles capable of reaching Israel.
A top US administration official told Channel 13 that Russia was told an Iranian exit from Syria would solve nothing if the problem merely moved to Lebanon or Iraq.
The Israelis and Americans suggested that as a first step Russia ensure the removal of Iranian heavy weaponry from Syria, including missiles and long-range rockets.
There was no word on the Russian response to the Israeli and American demands. Following the meeting, Russia’s national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev spoke out on behalf of Iran, supporting its ongoing military presence in Syria, which Israel sees as a threat to its security.
Though it did not cite sources, Channel 13 reported that the ongoing talks between Jerusalem, Washington and Moscow has Tehran concerned that its interests will not be maintained in a post-war arrangement.
The June 25 trilateral conference of Israeli, Russian, and US national security advisers was the first event of its kind to be held in Jerusalem and, according to Israel, was aimed specifically at countering Iran, including both its nuclear aspirations and its influence throughout the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Patrushev ahead of the meeting that “Israel won’t allow an Iran that calls for our annihilation to entrench itself on our border, and we will do anything it takes to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
Israel has long sought Russian backing for its demand that Iranian forces leave Syria upon the conclusion of the country’s civil war. Iran and its military proxies are helping the Syrian regime end the civil war but Israel is concerned that Tehran is using the opportunity to establish forward bases in Syria from which to attack the Jewish state.
Israel has vowed to prevent the entrenchment and has carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria against alleged Iran-linked military targets.
Russia, which maintains close ties to both Israel and Iran, is seen as a potential interlocutor between the West and Tehran.
Agencies contributed to this report.