Israel unhappy over Iran’s presence in ‘de-escalation zones’: source

Tehran Times – Speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not object to “de-escalation zones” arrangement in Syria but voiced opposition against Iran’s presence in those areas.

According to Haaretz, a senior Israeli official who wanted to remain anonymous said that Netanyahu had warned Putin against Iran’s presence in the de-escalation zones, while stressing that they cannot serve to allow Iran or Hezbollah to set up near the border with Israel.

It came a week after Iran, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement, urging setting up of four de-escalation zones in the war-torn Syria in the latest attempt to reduce violence in the country.

The agreement was signed during the fourth round of the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, and two days after Moscow put forward the proposal.

The four safe regions are located across eight of Syria’s 14 provinces, with the first zone including the northwestern province of Idlib, the western province of Latakia, the western-central province of Hama, and the northern province of Aleppo.

The second zone includes the northern parts of the central Homs province, and the third zone covers the Eastern Ghouta district near the capital Damascus, while the fourth zone includes southern Syria, particularly Dara’a and Quneitra provinces.

Washington has also voiced concerns over Iran’s presence in the de-escalation zones.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Washington on Wednesday. During the meeting, one of the main topics was the situation in Syria, with Trump stressing that he expected Russia to “rein in Iranian and Hezbollah operations in Syria.”

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster has also warned Russia against what he described as “Russia’s disruptive behavior”.

“What the president has made clear is that he will confront Russia’s disruptive behavior, such as the support for the murderous Assad regime in Syria … its enabling of Iran, and it’s very destructive policy and strategy that it’s executing across the Middle East,” McMaster explained.