Russia Protects 'Israeli Interests' in Syria

Beirut, Tel Aviv- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia and the US want to make sure that “Israel’s security interests are fully taken into account while establishing a de-escalation zone in southern Syria.”

Lavrov was responding to comments delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Sunday when he said Israel opposes the Russian-US plan on a ceasefire in southern Syria, as it will make it possible for Iran to expand its presence in the region.

Political sources accompanying Netanyahu to Budapest on Monday said that Israel seeks to gather an international force to foil the US-Russian agreement related to Syria for not respecting the interests of Israel and that Tel Aviv will work to prevent a victory of Iran and its allies in the region.

The sources said that Netanyahu also asked Macron that his country uses its influence in Lebanon to minimize Hezbollah.

“Netanyahu asked Macron that Paris utilizes its influence in Lebanon and asks that President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri minimize Hezbollah and limit its influence inside the state, in addition to stop receiving Hamas leaders who are removed from Qatar,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Free Army officials met with US Special Envoy for Syria, Deputy Assistant State Secretary Michael Ratney and discussed “means to enhance the truce and demarcate the borders of ceasefire, in addition to keeping the militias of Iran and Hezbollah away from the south.”

Separately, opposition factions close to Ankara launched on Monday a large attack on areas controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in the countryside of northern Aleppo with an aim to control the area stretching from Mare’ to Deir Jamal.

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