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Netanyahu says Israel will act in Southern Syria according to its security needs

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded yesterday to detailed reports of the Southern Syria ceasefire agreement between the US, Russia and Jordan.

Speaking to the Likud weekly faction he said that “Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, in accordance with its understanding and our security needs. We are protecting our borders, we are protecting our country and we will continue to do so”.

Yediot Ahronot reports that an anonymous senior Israeli security official has expressed concern that, according to the terms of the agreement, Iranian forces and their Shi’ite proxies could be allowed to remain as close as 5-7km from the border. A US State Department official said that Russia had agreed “to work with the Syrian regime to remove Iranian-backed forces a defined distance”.

A senior US military delegation will arrive in Israel today for meetings with their Israeli counterparts, including the head of the National Security Council and senior figures in the Mossad and IDF. They are expected to hold lengthy discussions about the ceasefire agreement and the continued presence of Iranian forces and proxy militias in southern Syria.

Israel had urged both the US and Russia to deny Iran, Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias any permanent bases in Syria, and had requested a larger buffer zone of 50-60km.

The new ceasefire agreement does not mention the size of the area or the distance from the Israeli border. US sources have said those distances would range from 5km to 30km, depending on current rebel positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.