July 26, 2018 (EIRNS)—The Russian Ministry of Defense praised Israel for its attack on July 25 that hit missile systems of the Islamic State on Syrian territory. The ministry’s statement said the ISIS terrorists were “seeking to provoke Israel’s strike on positions of the Syrian government army” by firing missiles at Israeli territory from the Syrian settlements of Hafa and al-Shajara in the al-Quneitra governorate.
“All Islamic State terrorists and missile systems were destroyed by a pinpoint retaliation strike of the Israel Defense Forces warplanes and artillery,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. The statement continued that the command of Russia’s task force in Syria thanked the Israeli military for preventing a big provocation by terrorists and for exterminating the militants. The IDF press service confirmed its strike against the ISIS missile launchers.
On July 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were in Israel meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to discuss the tasks of completing the anti-terrorist operation in Syria’s south, as well as Israel’s concerns regarding the presence of Iran.
The shooting down of a Syrian Sukhoi warplane by an Israeli Patriot anti-aircraft missile on July 24 highlights a potential flashpoint for conflicts until the Syria government is able to establish full control over the country and agreements are reached between Israel and Syria. The aircraft was involved in attacking terrorists on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights in southern Syria, which borders Israel. Israel claims the aircraft penetrated 1.8 km into the airspace over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and was shot down according to longstanding Israeli policy; the Syrians deny the aircraft penetrated into the Israeli zone.
According Israeli commentator Ron Ben-Yishai, Israel is demanding written agreements concerning Syria retaking control of the Syrian Golan Heights and enforcement of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, part of the armistice that ended the October 1973 war. This includes the reestablishment of the United Nations detachment that was withdrawn from Syria when the terrorist war started. Prior to the terrorist war against Damascus there were virtually no incidents along the ceasefire line; in fact there was a border crossing that allowed Syrians living in the Israeli-occupied zone to cross in and out of Syria. Israel has been giving covert support to at least one of the terrorist groups in the area since the terrorist war against Syria began.
As for Iran, the Israelis demand that the Iranians withdraw completely from all Syrian territory. The Russians proposed to keep Iranians 100 km from the Israeli border. While Israeli media claim that Israel rejected this, the Russian Embassy posted a response on its Facebook page stating: “The [media] reports are not rooted in reality. The talks held between Israeli and Russian representatives in Jerusalem were productive and we were complimented on our efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria,” concluded the official statement.
The Russian-Israeli talks follow statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump during their July 16 summit where they both supported the need to recognize the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement.