Netanyahu, Putin discuss Syrian crisis, anti-terror efforts

The Israeli and Russian leaders discussed their coordination on the threats facing both countries as well as mutual interests. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Russia Syria

A Russian fighter takes off for a mission against ISIS in Syria. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed in a phone conversation on Tuesday the ongoing crisis in Syria and the countries’ coordinated efforts in the war on Islamic terrorism, the Kremlin press service said.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took place at the initiative of the Israeli side,” the Kremlin announced, according to Russia’s Sputnik News Agency. “It was agreed to maintain active dialogue at various levels, including for the purpose of further coordinating the antiterrorist front.”

The statement noted that Putin underscored the inevitability of talks to resolve the five-year-long civil war in Syria under the auspices of the United Nations and continuing an uncompromising fight with the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Islamic terror groups in Syria.

Putin also reportedly called for a “de-escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian violence” and the “importance of practical steps toward resolving tensions.”

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The phone call comes following the purported Israeli assassination in Syria of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar on Saturday.

Despite Russia’s ties with Iran and Syria as well as its tensions with the West over the war in Ukraine, Israel has maintained a warm relationship with Putin. In September, Netanyahu flew to Moscow and met with Putin to establish a mechanism to prevent inadvertent clashes over Syria.

“Under the agreements we have with the Russians, they act in accordance with their interests; we act in accordance with our interests; and the one doesn’t bother the other,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in November.

Netanyahu and Putin also met again on the sidelines of the Paris climate change conference in late November.

Jerusalem and Moscow have established a line of communication to prevent possible clashes between the Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria.

Moscow launched a campaign against ISIS in Syria in response to the downing of a Russian plane on October 31 that killed all 224 people on board. Russia said an explosive device had been placed on board the Airbus 321-200, for which the Sinai branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Israel has reportedly conducted several airstrikes against targets inside Syria, and specifically against weapons shipments to the Hezbollah terror organization.

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