At Putin summit, Trump to give Israel ‘green light’ to attack Iran in Syria

The US will back Israel’s right to attack Iran in Syria “wherever and however Israel wants to,” says a Western diplomat.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

When US President Donald Trump meets with his Russian counterpart next month, he will insist that Iran take all its forces out of Syria, the Al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday.

The US backs Israel publicly in this arena, according to a Western diplomat who spoke with the paper.

“The US will give Israel the green light to attack any Iranian presence in Syria, wherever and however Israel wants to,” he said.

The diplomat added that another factor that Washington has taken into consideration is that “Jordan also opposes an Iranian presence on its borders.”

“If the Putin-Trump summit is held on July 15, its core will be to negotiate Washington’s insistence on Iran’s withdrawal from Syria,” the unnamed Western  diplomat told the paper.

Fox News reported Thursday that the summit will take place in Helsinki on July 16.

Iran’s withdrawal from Syria is a key Israeli demand as well. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned repeatedly over recent months that Israel will not allow Iran to remain in Syria after it finishes helping President Bashar Assad regain complete control of his country, which is what he is seemingly on the verge of doing.

Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will stop Iran from building any forward bases or missile-producing factories and from entrenching either its own military or its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah, near the Israeli border. He backed up his words with action, as the IAF has bombed dozens of Iranian targets in Syria in the past few months, destroying drone units, command and control centers and other sites of military value.

It is generally agreed that Israel must have received quiet permission from the Russians to do so, as the superpower’s forces have been in the country since Assad asked them for military aid in September 2015. Russia’s anti-aircraft defense systems were not utilized to stop the Israeli air raids.

Due in large part to their airpower, the Russians have been instrumental in quashing the revolt against Assad’s rule, possibly even more than the Iranians, who have contributed by recruiting and paying tens of thousands of foreign Muslims to fight for Assad. They therefore have a large amount of leverage in Damascus, which is why Trump will be focusing on this issue at the summit.

However, observers are questioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to put his country’s uneasy alliance with the Islamic Republic in Syria to the test in this way and at this time, when the two governments have publicly stated they are working together not just to end the civil war, but also to bring actual peace to the country via a negotiated settlement with the opposition.

In that context, Al-Hayat also reported that UN envoy Stephane de Mistura has expressed “cautious optimism of the progress made in the process of forming a constitutional committee after the government submitted its list of candidates influenced by Russia and Iran, and that the opposition is expected to submit its list.”