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Israeli FM Warns Iran over Presence in Syria, Reassures Russia


Asharq Al-Awsat


Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has lashed out at Iran over its military presence in Syria after meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
Lapid agreed with Lavrov to launch a coordination mechanism to enhance military understanding between Moscow and Tel Aviv.
The Israeli foreign minister said there wouldn't be stability in Syria, or the broader Middle East, as long as Iran is present.
He called Tehran "the world's number one exporter of terror."
He added that Israel will not "sit quietly by while Iran builds terror bases on our northern border or while Iran supplies advanced weapons to terror organizations."
However, Lapid said Tel Aviv recognizes Moscow's "key interests in the region" and asserts it is keen to maintain the security of the Russian military in Syria.
"It is very important for us to make sure that no matter what happens in Syria, the Russian military will not be harmed," Lapid said.
In response to a question about Moscow's position on the Israeli raids in Syria, Lapid said that Tel Aviv is working very closely with its Russian partners to avoid a dangerous escalation.
Lapid's escalatory statement came after he reached an agreement with Lavrov to enhance coordination in various aspects.
However, despite this announcement, Moscow still opposes Israeli raids in Syria.
Russia had called upon Israel to deal with "new rules" of engagement in Syria, including informing Moscow of any detected threats, which the Russian army responds to, without the need for military intervention from Tel Aviv.
Lavrov stressed during his meeting with Lapid that ensuring Israel's security is a major priority for Moscow in Syria.
He indicated that Israel's security is a legitimate interest, adding: "We always emphasize that for us, this is one of the key priorities in the Syrian case as well as in other conflicts."
"Russia believes… [in] the territorial integrity of Syria," said Lavrov, adding that "Syria has the right to define the future of its nation."
Lavrov did not mention Iran in his statement, but noted that he and Lapid had discussed the situation in Syria.

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