Putin: Syria in no position to open front against Israel

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Syrian army is not in a position to open a second front against Israel, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow.

“Our main goal is to defend the Syrian state,” Putin said of Russia’s actions in Syria, including moving troops into the country. “However, I understand your concern and I am very pleased that you have come here to discuss all issues in detail,” he told Netanyahu on Monday at the start of the leaders’ meeting.

Netanyahu said he had made the trip to Russia to “clarify our policies” on Syria and Iran, and to “make sure that there is no misunderstanding between our forces.”

“Iran and Syria have been arming the extremist Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with advanced weapons aimed at us, and over the years thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired against our cities. At the same time Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights,” the Israeli leader charged.

He added: “Our policy is to prevent these weapons transfers, and to prevent the creation of a terrorist front and attacks on us from the Golan Heights.”

In his prepared remarks, Putin sought to reassure Netanyahu.

“We never forget that many people from the former Soviet Union live in Israel,” the Russian president said. “This gives the relations between our countries an extra dimension. Russia has always been very responsible in its actions in the region and will continue to be so.”

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