Israeli Minister Says Russia Backs Plans to Remove Iran from Syria

Minister Yoav Galant, who is also a former military commander, maintains that Moscow is now ready to fall in line with the Israeli strategy in Syria.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Israeli cabinet minister Yoav Galant says that Israel has a plan to force Iran out of Syria and that Russia supports it.

Galant is a former IDF commander. He made his comments Saturday at a cultural gathering.

He did not elaborate on the Israeli plan but explained that Moscow would back it now because the situation in Syria had changed with the defeat of rebel groups.

“As long as the Russians had to defeat the rebel organizations, they saw the Iranians and Hezbollah as partners because they were active on the battlefield,”  but now, “Israel and Russia have a shared interest to expel the Iranians from Syria,” said Galant.

Galant’s comments came following a serious escalation across the Israeli-Syrian border during the past week.

Last Sunday, an Israeli strike on the area of Damascus airport was followed by a surface-to-surface missile attack on Israel from Syria. The missile, said to have been launched by Iranian Quds Force members, was intercepted by the IDF Iron Dome aerial defense system.

After that exchange of attacks, the Israel Air Force launched additional retaliatory strikes early Monday morning on Iranian targets near Damascus and on the Syrian air defense batteries that fired on the attacking Israeli fighter jets, according to the IDF.

Twenty-one people, mostly Iranians, were reported killed.

Publicly, at least, the Russians have remained critical of Israeli actions. On Wednesday, Moscow said that Israel should stop carrying out “arbitrary” air strikes on Syria.

“We should never allow Syria, which has suffered years of armed conflict, to be turned into an arena where geopolitical accounts are settled,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have maintained close contacts in overseeing their respective interests in Syria.

Galant is jockeying for a high-level political position following the Israeli Knesset election on April 9th. He recently left a smaller party which is part of the government coalition in parliament and joined Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

He has been a frequent interviewee on Israeli news programs discussing his views on military matters.