Israel to Russia: Iran must quit Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that its ally Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad would be safe from Israel, but Moscow should encourage Iranian forces quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

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The message, which the official said Netanyahu conveyed in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, came just hours after Israel shot down a Syrian drone that had penetrated its airspace.

Israel has been on high alert as Assad’s forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan Heights and let his Iranian and Hezbollah reinforcements entrench near Israeli lines.

Israel has threatened to open fire at any Syrian government forces that try to deploy in a demilitarized Golan buffer zone set up under a 1974 UN-monitored armistice.

“They (Russia) have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out. These can clash or it can align,” the Israeli official said.

“We won’t take action against the Assad regime,” the official quoted Netanyahu as telling Putin in Moscow, and added the PM came away reassured that “they (Russia) are getting the Iranians out”.