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Russia and US agree on 1974 Israel-Syria peacekeeping line

Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed with the US to secure Israel’s northern border with Syria, set in a 1974 agreement which defined the terms for the disengagement of forces between Israel and Syria.

Speaking yesterday at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump, following a private meeting in Helsinki, Putin said that when “terrorist forces” are wiped out in south and west Syria, “the situation on the Golan Heights must be restored to what it was after the 1974 agreement”. Putin added this would restore quiet to the Golan Heights and restore the ceasefire.

Trump said that Moscow “would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel”. He added: “We absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel, and Israel will be working with us. So both countries work jointly [for this purpose].”

Trump also added that “creating safety for Israel is something both Putin and I would like to see very much”.

President Trump reiterated his support for securing Israel’s borders during an interview with Fox News later in the day. He said the meeting between the two superpowers presented “a really good conclusion for Israel”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “very much appreciates the security coordination between Israel and Russia and the clear position expressed by President Putin regarding the need to uphold the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria”.

Putin last week met separately in Moscow with Prime Minister Netanyahu and a senior envoy of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in an effort to forge a compromise. Israel has been pushing for the removal of Iranian-backed militias “tens of kilometres” from Israel’s border as an immediate step, and for a full withdrawal from all of Syria in the long term.

Syria state television yesterday reported that regime forces retook control of the al-Haara hill overlooking the Golan Heights. The capture came after heavy bombardment from Russian planes and Syrian army raids over the past two days. A Syrian army source added that the army had made territorial gains in Quneitra province, where it seized the town of Mashara, about seven miles from the Golan frontier.