U.S. security team in Israel to discuss Syrian border deal

GPO  Channel 2 News

In recent months Israel has held talks with Moscow, Washington and Amman in an attempt to ensure that the agreement will define the buffer zone some 40 kilometers from the borders of the Jewish State.

Israeli Cabinet Minister 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 a brief statement, the Israeli official said Netanyahu told Putin "Israel will continue to look out for its security interests in any situation".

Netanyahu made his remarks, which came during a Likud meeting, despite the ceasefire agreement signed on Saturday between the US, Russia and Jordan.

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of the Syrian war, but officials have acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes on suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah.

Describing Israel's security policy as the "right combination of firmness and responsibility", Netanyahu said Monday that he has "informed our friends in Washington and our friends in Moscow that we will operate in Syria, including southern Syria, in accordance with our understanding and in accordance with our security needs".

Israel media published on Monday that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot traveled secretly to Brussels and convened with US General Curtis Scaparrotti to discuss Iranian acts in the Middle East, generally, and Syria, specifically.

Russian Federation never promised the United States that Iran and Iranian-backed forces would withdraw from Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, adding that their presence in the war-torn country is legitimate.

It was not clear if Lavrov's comments related to reports that the deal would place restrictions on how close to the Israeli-Syrian border Iran-backed groups would be allowed to remain.

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.

The Times of Israel reported that the team's visit has been confirmed by U.S. officials.

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