Assad ally Putin tells Netanyahu not to destabilise Syria

Assad ally Putin tells Netanyahu not to destabilise Syria
2 min read
12 April, 2018
The phone call follows reports that Israel was behind an airstrike against a military base in Homs, Syria that left 14 dead, including seven Iranians.
Binyamin Netanyahu with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin [2016]
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, urging him not to carry out any activities that would destabilise Syria.

However, Netanyahu told Putin that Israel would continue to work toward preventing Iran's military entrenchment in Syria, according to Reuters.

On Monday, Netanyahu said Israel will strike anyone who harms the Jewish state, appearing to refer to the missile strike on a Syrian air base in Homs earlier that day which killed 14 people, including seven Iranians.

Syria and its top allies Iran and Russia say Israel was behind the air strike, which Tel Aviv has neither confirmed nor denied. Israel maintains a policy of not commenting directly on attacks outside its borders. 

During Wednesday's call, Putin told Netanyahu that it was important to respect Syria's sovereignty, according to a statement released by the Kremlin.

Netanyahu's office released a widely divergent statement, saying: "The prime minister reiterated that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria."

On Tuesday, Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader, said the "crimes will not remain unanswered," referring to the air strikes before dawn on Monday that left seven Iranians dead. 

The Israeli strikes reportedly targeted an "advanced system" that could undermine Israel's air superiority in Lebanese and Syrian airspace, according to Hadashot TV

Israel has frequently struck Syrian military positions during the now seven-year-long war. Tel Aviv views Hizballah, an Iranian-backed regime ally, as its biggest threat and has grown alarmed over Tehran's growing clout in Syria. 

Russian and Iranian forces, as well as fighters from Hizballah, are reported to have had a presence at the T-4 base in Homs that was struck on Monday.

Russia intervened in Syria's war in 2015, helping tip the war in Assad's favour.

According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria. The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

Russia on Wednesday also threatened  to shoot down any possible US missiles fired into Syria, as international powers considered a unified response to a deadly chemical attack in the war-torn country, which the White House said Syria and Russia were responsible for.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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