US, Russia and Jordan “keep” Israel’s security interests in ‘de-escalation agreement’ for Syria

The United States reached an agreement on Saturday with Russia and Jordan, aimed at de-escalating the ongoing conflict in Syria. An official familiar with the details of the agreement told TV7 that as part of the trilateral deal, opposing forces battling in the war-torn-country would be forced to keep away from each other, to avoid deteriorating the already volatile situation, that could challenge international efforts to re-ignite a political process. The official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not permitted to speak, further explained that the agreement also kept Israel’s security concerns in mind, and includes a Russian commitment to remove Iranian and other forces that are backed by Tehran in Syria, such as Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias, from the border-region with the Jewish State. The agreement was announced after US President Donald Trump met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, during which the two leaders also confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and called on all parties to the Syria conflict to take an active part in the Geneva political process. Following their meeting, President Putin revealed in a press conference that while reaching an agreement on Syria was a challenging endeavor, the meeting with President Trump was imperative to bring about the desired outcome. He said, “We can say that the work on the sidelines of the APEC was useful and successful, because it was not easy to reach (agreement on) Syria statement (With U.S. president Donald Trump),” the Russian leader noted.

Meanwhile in Israel, Jerusalem signaled that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent any violation by Iranian-allied forces, even after the United States and Russia reached an agreement aimed at setting the groundwork for a ceasefire in the area. Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi voiced reservations about the deal, claiming it “does not meet Israel’s security demands” with regard to its declared red-lines in its northern neighbor, including the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Islamic Republic, through Syria, to the Shi’ite-militia Hezbollah in Lebanon. He claimed, “The agreement that was signed does not answer Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring Hezbollah or Iranian forces closer to the Syria-Israeli border in the north. There is a reflection of understanding that Israel has set red lines,” Minister Hanegbi, a close associate of PM Netanyahu, emphasized ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting.

During the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated a warning to Israel’s enemies not to test Jerusalem’s resolve, emphasizing that the Israeli military will respond in a severe manner against anyone who would try to attack the Jewish state. Netanyahu said, “These days, there are still some who toy with the idea of attempting attacks on Israel. Our response will be harsh against anybody who will try to attack us, or will attack us from any sector. I mean every element, factions, rogue entities, organizations, anyone,” the Israeli leader warned.