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Netanyahu: Israel Works with Russia to Remove Foreign Troops from Syria

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, March 3rd, that Israel and Russia will work together on securing an exit of foreign forces from Syria, according to Reuters.

The deal was agreed, according to Netanyahu, during his visit to Moscow last week to speak out against an Iranian presence in Syria.

While Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad beats back an eight-year-old insurgency with the help of foreign forces, Israel worries that his reinforcements from Iran and the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah will stay on to form a new front against Israel, Reuters said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria. These operations have been largely ignored by Russia, which intervened militarily on Assad's behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

During his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said that he had made it unequivocally clear that such strikes would continue, with an Israeli-Russian military hotline continuing to prevent accidental clashes between the countries.

Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet in broadcast remarks: "President Putin and I also agreed on a shared goal - the removal from Syria of the foreign forces that came in after the civil war erupted."

"We agreed to set up a joint task force which, together with others, will work to advance toward this goal," he added.

In an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) published on Sunday, March 2nd, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the situation in Syria had visibly stabilized after operations by Syrian government forces, together with Russian aerial support.

But Lavrov said it was too early to declare the terrorist threat in Syria, a reference to ISIS fighters, to be eliminated.

The U S has been drawing down its own forces in Syria as the terrorist group nears defeat.