TV report: White House tells Russia it backs Israeli strikes in Syria
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TV report: White House tells Russia it backs Israeli strikes in Syria

US official quoted saying Trump administration told Kremlin it supports Israeli action so long as Iranian forces remain in the country

Israeli soldiers maneuver Merkava tanks in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on June 2, 2019. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP)
Israeli soldiers maneuver Merkava tanks in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on June 2, 2019. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP)

A senior official in the Trump administration says the US has made it clear to Russia several times in recent months that America supports Israeli attacks in Syria as long as Iranian forces are operating in the country, Channel 13 reported Sunday.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying the US had told the Russians that Israel has America’s complete support for attacking targets in Syria.

“We told them [Russia] that all the Iranian forces should leave, and this is not only an Israeli demand, but also an American demand,” the source reportedly said.

The revelation came after Israel retaliated for an attack a day earlier in which rockets were fired from Syria at Mount Hermon, with one explosion damaging a ski-lift.

Reports said seven “foreign fighters” were among the 10 killed in the Israel Defense Forces airstrikes Sunday on several military targets in Syria.

Smoke seen billowing from the landing site of a rocket fired from Syrian territory at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights on June 1, 2019. (Screenshot from Mt. Hermon ski site CCTV)

According to Sunday’s report, the US official said Israel had asked the United States to intervene with Russia regarding Moscow’s commitment to keep pro-Iranian forces at least 70-100 kilometers away from the border, saying that Washington had raised the issue with the Russians in quiet diplomatic talks.

In three weeks the national security advisers of Israel, the US and Russia are expected to meet in Jerusalem in the first security summit of its kind.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, are expected to discuss Syria and Iran when they meet later this month in Jerusalem with Israel’s national security chief Meir Ben-Shabbat. Israel wants to push Russia and the US to cooperate in reaching a political settlement that will remove the Iranian forces from Syria.

Earlier this year, Amos Gilad, a former army general and powerful head of the Defense Ministry’s political affairs bureau, warned that Israel was failing to force Iran to abandon its plans to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, despite the success of Israel Defense Forces strikes there.

“On the tactical and operational level, the strikes on the Iranians are powerful. But on a strategic level, we are not succeeding,” Gilad said.

Israel has for years accused Tehran of trying to establish a permanent military presence in Syria from which the Islamic republic could threaten the Jewish state, much in the same way it does from Lebanon with its proxy there, the Hezbollah terrorist group.

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