By: Herb Keinon; Jerusalem Post – jpost.com
Israel’s ambassador to Russia said Israel insisted on the full withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria.
Israel and Russia have reached an understanding to ensure the preservation of the 1974 cease-fire line on the Golan Heights, according to Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren.
According to a TASS Russian News Agency report, Koren – who met with Russian journalists in Stavropol in southern Russia Monday – said, “we coordinated the arrangement under which Russia pledged to make sure, as it were, that the Syrian Army will not cross the cease-fire line established under the 1974 agreement. It looks like everything is functioning for the time being. I hope it will be so in the future, as well.”
Koren said Israel insisted on the full withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria.
The 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria, which followed the Yom Kippur War, separated Israel and Syrian troops and created a 235-km. buffer zone in the Golan Heights. Israel demands the buffer zone be respected, even as it is deeply concerned that Iranian or Shia forces moving south with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops may try to violate it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed during his visit to Moscow in July that respecting the Separation of Forces Agreement was a red line for Israel in Syria.
UN peacekeepers, augmented by Russian military police, returned to the border last week to carry out patrols. The day before, Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s special envoy on Syria, said Iran and Shia militias have withdrawn 85 km. from the border on the Golan.
“There are no units of heavy equipment and weapons that could pose a threat to Israel at a distance of 85 km. from the line of demarcation,” Lavrentiev was quoted as saying in TASS.
Israel’s stated position remains as the removal of all Iranian forces and their proxies from Syria, although Netanyahu made clear during his Moscow talks the immediate priorities were to move these forces away from the border, to remove Iran’s long-range missiles from throughout Syria, and to ensure the separation agreement will be honored in full.