Iran: Israeli strikes in Syria to be discussed at summit with Russia, Turkey
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Iran: Israeli strikes in Syria to be discussed at summit with Russia, Turkey

Foreign minister says Tehran will respond to Israel’s attacks in a ‘timely manner,’ adds that Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani will also confer on US withdrawal from Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends the geopolitical discussion event "Iran Regional and Global Prespective for 2019" in New Delhi on January 8, 2019. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends the geopolitical discussion event "Iran Regional and Global Prespective for 2019" in New Delhi on January 8, 2019. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

A trilateral summit later this month between Iran, Russia, and Turkey will touch on Israel’s airstrikes in Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday.

Zarif told Russia’s RT news network that nations at the February 14 Sochi Summit will also review the planned withdrawal of US forces from Syria.

“We will discuss with the Russian side the Israeli attacks on Syria and Iran will respond to the Israeli attacks in a timely manner and in accordance with national interests,” Zarif said.

The main focus of the talks, to be held in Russian resort city of Sochi, will be the formation of the Syrian Constitutional Commission aimed at ending the country’s civil war, Zarif added.

His comments regarding a response to the airstrikes followed a series of reciprocal taunts by Israeli and Iranian leaders in recent weeks amid rising tensions on the Israeli-Syrian border between Israeli and Iranian forces. Iran and Israel have increasingly clashed in Syria.

Israel says it has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets as part of a campaign to prevent Tehran from establishing a military presence in Syria.

The Kremlin announced the summit on Tuesday saying it will be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will focus on Syria, where a civil war has raged for eight years.

The three men last met in Tehran in September 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) attend a press conference after meeting in Tehran on September 7, 2018.(Mikhail KLIMENTYEV/AFP/SPUTNIK )

Also Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will travel to Moscow for a meeting with Putin, their first formal meeting since Russia blamed Israel for the downing of a military aircraft by Syrian anti-aircraft fire over Syria last year.

Netanyahu said he will fly to Russia on February 21 for talks focused on Iranian efforts to establish a military presence in Syria. His office said the Israeli and Russian leaders would also discuss regional issues and improving security coordination between the countries’ militaries in Syria. There was no immediate confirmation from the Kremlin.

Netanyahu has met with Putin numerous times since Russia’s 2015 military intervention in Syria, where along with Iran and allied proxy groups it is fighting on behalf of President Bashar Assad’s regime, but contacts have all but stopped since the spy plane incident.

In September, Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian military aircraft during Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in the country, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Russia, which is allied with Damascus, blamed the Israeli military for the incident, a charge rejected by Jerusalem, and later transferred advanced air-defense systems to Syria in a move condemned by Israel.

Netanyahu has since talked to Putin by phone and spoke with him on the sidelines of World War II commemorations in Paris in November, but the two have not held a formal sit-down since July. Netanyahu has reportedly repeatedly sought a meeting with Putin since the plane incident.

Their meeting will also be their first since US President Donald Trump announced in December he would pull all out all American soldiers from Syria in a move welcomed by Putin, but which has been met with concern in Israel.

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