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World

AFP
November 14, 2017

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Netanyahu signals Israel will act with free hand in Syria

Netanyahu signals Israel will act with free hand in Syria

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he has told the United States and Russia that Israel will continue to take action across the Syrian frontier according to its security needs, even as the two powers try to build up a ceasefire.

"We are controlling our borders, we are protecting our country and we will continue to do so," Netanyahu said in public remarks to members of his Likud party in parliament. "I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs.

Netanyahu has publicly criticized the US-Russian ceasefire deal in Syria, saying that it does not include any provisions to stop Iranian expansion near Israel's northern border. In recent months Israel has held talks with Moscow, Washington and Amman in an attempt to ensure that any agreement will define the buffer zone at least 40 kilometers from the border with the Jewish State.

The border with Syria has been tense since war erupted in 2011, and Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran.

Due to these concerns Israel has admitted to carrying out some 100 airstrikes against Hezbollah targets and weapons convoys over the past five years. Dozens more have been attributed to the Jewish State.

Intelligence minister Yisrael Katz reiterated Israel’s red lines on Monday, stating that “Israel has already made it clear that it shall not accept Iran and its affiliates and proxies basing themselves in Syria, which will be a permanent threat and a constant source of tension, friction and instability.”

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