Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin on Friday called on Israel to limit strikes on Syrian territory, saying that each strike raised the prospect of further conflict in the region.
“With regard to the latest Israeli attacks, we said that such arbitrary attacks on sovereign Syrian territory should be stopped and excluded,” Vershinin said, according to Russian news agency Sputnik. “Any strikes destabilize the situation even more. No one should conduct actions in Syria that go beyond the scope of anti-terrorist objectives.”
However, Vershinin added that military coordination between Russia and Israel was working in the wake of last year’s incident, where Syria shot down a Russian aircraft during an Israeli raid. Russia blamed Israel, which rejected the charge.
“We obviously want a more efficient deconfliction mechanism. We want to avoid incidents similar to what happened to our aircraft,” Vershinin said. “The military line of deconfliction is steadily working, the line has been operational for over a year and we are improving it.”
On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that a trilateral summit later this month between representatives of the Islamic Republic, Russia, and Turkey will touch on Israel’s airstrikes in Syria.
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.
His comments regarding a response to the airstrikes followed a series of reciprocal taunts by Israeli and Iranian leaders amid rising tensions on the Israeli-Syrian border between Israeli and Iranian forces.
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.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will travel to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, their first formal meeting since Russia blamed Israel for the downing of a military aircraft by Syrian anti-aircraft fire over Syria.
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.
Their meeting will also be their first since US President Donald Trump announced in December he would pull out all American soldiers from Syria in a move welcomed by Putin, but which has been met with concern in Israel.