Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to doing whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent foothold in Syria. “We will continue to act against [Tehran’s] intention to establish a military presence across [the border] from us, not just [in the] Golan Heights but anywhere in Syria,” the premier affirmed. His comments came as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman headed for Moscow, where he is expected to meet Thursday with his Russian counterpart to hash out the details of a reported agreement to create an area adjacent to Israel’s border in which Iranian-backed Shiite forces, including Hizbullah, will be barred from operating. While the creation of such a “buffer zone” diminishes the prospect of Tehran launching short-range missiles at Israel and deploying tens of thousands of mercenaries under its control within striking distance of the Jewish state, there remains an apparent gap between Jerusalem’s position and what Moscow is purportedly willing to offer. Moreover, analysts have pointed out that a previous deal forged between the United States, Russia and Jordan already bans all non-Syrian forces from entering a so-called “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria that encompasses the frontier region. As things stand, then, Iran is liable for the foreseeable future to continue its military build-up in other areas Syria, with Israel striking Iranian assets as it deems necessary. The developments come on the backdrop of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s scheduled trip next week to Germany, France and Britain, where he is expected to press his case against the 2015 nuclear deal that Washington recently withdrew from. Those European nations, in conjunction with Russia and China, have been seeking a way to salvage the accord, which the Israeli leader vehemently opposed from the get-go.
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