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Netanyahu and Putin discuss Syria

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Israel’s Prime Minister discussed the situation in Syria with the President of Russia yesterday in a scheduled telephone call.

The Kremlin issued a statement after the conversation and said that  “Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation” and “discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria”.

The two leaders have held regular phonecalls over the last couple of years, since they established new protocols and a de-confliction mechanism for operations on the Syrian border.

Yesterday’s call followed extensive media reports, most recently in the Times, that Israel has requested the creation of a security buffer zone in Syria, extending 30 miles from the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights. Israel’s security establishment remains concerned about Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed militias establishing themselves in the area, from which they could attack Israel.

Russian and US representatives are due to meet in Amman to discuss the situation in southern Syria and Israel is reported to be attending.

US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to criticise Russia’s involvement in the Syria conflict ahead of his meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg today. Trump urged Russia to end “its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies, and in defence of civilization itself”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tilleron issued a statement yesterday outlining the US’s willingness “to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on the ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance”.