YERUSHALAYIM - Reports said Monday that for the second time in less than a week, Israeli ambassador to Russia Gary Koren was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry for “consultations” in the wake of what was rumored to be an Israeli attack on a top terrorist inside Syria on Sunday. Koren, who had presented his credentials to Russian President Vladmir Putin last Thursday, was called in for a lecture on Friday after the IDF bombed Hezbollah targets in Syria – and on Sunday, he was called in a second time in the wake of rumors of the action on Sunday, Israeli media reported.
However, the Foreign Ministry denied the report. In a statement, it said that “Ambassador Koren was not summoned a second time” by Russian officials.
On Sunday, an Israeli drone reportedly struck a target on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing a man who was driving a van in the Quneitra area. Reports said that the targeted individual was Yasser al-Sayed, a commander in Syria’s air defense unit, according to Channel 2. Israel did not comment on the report.
Overnight last Thursday, IDF forces struck in Syria, hitting several targets, including what security officials said was a shipment of advanced Iranian missiles that were being delivered to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Syrian army forces fired antiaircraft missiles at the Israeli planes. None were hit, but as the Syrian missiles were fired in the direction of the Jordan Valley, the Red Alert early warning system went into action, sounding a loud siren at about 2:30 a.m. that sent residents scurrying for shelter.
As an important player in Syria – and chief ally of President Bashar al-Assad in his battle against rebel groups – Russia takes an interest in all military activities in Syria. At their recent meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly discussed with Putin the possibility of Israeli activities against Hezbollah inside Syria. Russian officials denied that the two had agreed on such a possibility. Upon his return to Israel from Moscow, Netanyahu said that he had stressed numerous issues that affected Israel during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I made it clear that regarding Syria, while Israel is not opposed that there should be an agreement there, we strongly oppose the possibility that Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria under such an agreement. I think that this was made clear in the best way. From my experience with President Putin, these matters are important not only in preventing misunderstandings, but in the end they will also find expression on the ground.”