Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

If we speak of pro-Iranian forces, probably, someone would like to call nearly the whole Syria pro-Iranian.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday affirmed joint efforts to stabilize Syria as its civil war wanes, including with the expansion of a July 7 truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.

Representatives of other security branches will also participate in the discussions, which are slated to be held days after Russian Federation, the USA and Jordan signed an agreement on a cease-fire in southern Syria.

Moscow did not immediately provide details on the deal.

The reason for this move, according to Reuters, citing an Israeli official, is to separate between rival factions inside Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had intensively lobbied in Moscow and Washington for the agreement to create a 37-50 mile secure buffer zone between Israel and Syria.

Pressed by a reporter as to how exactly the Russians would convince the Iranians to withdraw from Syria entirely, the official described the memorandum as having "kind of extended that (earlier) progress to really turn the area into a de-escalation area", before reiterating that U.S. policy remains committed to a Syria "free of Iran, free of Hezbollah, free of all these militias that the Iranians have imported".

Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday that the agreement "does not answer Israel's unequivocal demands that there will be no developments that bring Iranian or Hezbollah forces closer to Israel's border with Syria in the north".

In the latest incident, the Israeli military said it shot down a spy drone on Saturday as it overflew the Golan. Damascus did not immediately respond.

According to local media reports, the delegation includes United States officials from the national security council.

While the agreement requires all foreign forces - including Iranian troops and those backed by Tehran - to leave Syria, the deal does not set deadlines for their departure.

"If this works, this is an auspicious signal, would be an auspicious signal, that our policy objective - the objective that I think so many of us share, of getting these guys out of Syria ultimately - that there's a path in that direction", the official said.