Russia criticizes ‘arbitrary’ Israeli strikes on Syria

Russian spokeswoman warns against using Syrian territory to settle “geopolitical accounts.”

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Russia said on Wednesday that Israel should stop carrying out what Moscow is calling “arbitrary” air strikes on Syria.

Israel has repeatedly attacked what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Israel will continue to act against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and its military supplies to allies including Hezbollah.

“The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case, we are talking about Syria, should be ruled out,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, in response to a question from Russian news agency TASS about recent Israeli attacks 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,” TASS cited her as saying.

The violence took an even more dangerous turn on Sunday when an Israeli strike on the area of Damascus airport was followed by a surface-to-surface missile attack on Israel from Syria. The missile is said to have been launched by Iranian Quds Force members. The missile 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.

Israel has its own complaints against Russia, saying that the surface-to-surface missile was fired from a location in Syria from where Moscow had pledged to the Jewish state that Iranian forces would be kept away.

The ongoing relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow in overseeing the Syrian situation has gone through warmer and cooler times, as the two countries have cooperated to try to prevent each from accidentally shooting down the other’s aircraft operating in Syrian skies, but have also accused each other of acting in ways which endanger the situation amid the continuing bloodshed in Syria.

Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met many times and reportedly spoken on the phone on many more occasions to maintain the coordination.

A major point of concern for Israel in the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump on withdrawing his troops from Syria has been granting Russia and Iran greater leverage in the war-torn country.

Israeli-Russian cooperation was stepped up when Barack Obama served as U.S. president, and Israeli officials were frustrated over the lack of his action in Syria to prevent the situation from reeling further out of control.