'Assad safe from Israel if Iran removed from Syria,' Netanyahu tells Putin

Clay Curtis
July 12, 2018

Israel said a Syrian drone, apparently unarmed and designed for surveillance, entered its airspace and was downed with a Patriot missile near the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday.

"We won't take action against the Assad regime, and you get the Iranians out", the official, who requested anonymity, quoted Netanyahu as telling Russia's Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow, according to Reuters news agency.

That episode triggered a massive Israeli bombardment of Iranian military installations in Syria, fueling tensions that exploded in another round of rockets and counter-strikes later in the year. A Syrian commander said the drone was engaged in local operations.

The military issued a statement warning that it "will not allow any violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to hurt its civilians".

"A drone penetrated from Syria's territory to Israel's territory several hours ago".

Israeli soldiers stand guard as Syrians walk into a checking room just after they crossed the armistice line to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to get medical treatment in Israel, July 11, 2018. It bombed Iranian targets in Syria in response to that incident.

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"We will discuss Syria, we will discuss Iran, we will discuss Israel's security needs", Netanyahu told reporters before departing to Moscow.

Iran is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war, as is Russian Federation.

Watched by Israeli soldiers with night-vision equipment, one woman - carrying one child and holding the hand of another - stepped through a gate built into Israel's security fence in the occupied Golan Heights.

In their Moscow meeting Netanyahu and Putin were to discuss Syria.

Israel has been on high alert as Assad's forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, much of which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

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