Reports: Russia, Israel No Longer in Tandem Over Syria

YERUSHALAYIM -
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow.
(Reuters/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool)

Moscow has decided to adopt a new strategy in Syria, pro-Syrian newspapers in Lebanon reported, in a move expected to severely impact Israel’s security interests.

In recent years, Israel enjoyed almost complete freedom of operations in Syrian airspace, conducting airstrikes on targets that posed a threat to national security, according to foreign reports.

News of the change in Syrian policy was reported in Lebanese media outlets whose senior political commentators have close ties to the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime as well as senior officers in Russian military headquarters stationed in Syria.

According to the reports, the mechanism used by the Israeli security system and Russian forces for coordination inside Syria is no longer in use. The mechanism had been made possible due to direct ties between former Prime Minister and now opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who saw eye to eye on the need to prevent Iran from growing its presence in Syria.

A senior Russian official was quoted by Lebanese media outlets as saying: “The earlier coordination with Israel stopped as soon as the new government was established and Netanyahu finished his role. One can say that our ties with Israeli forces on the Israeli side of the border with Syria are now entirely concrete and based on interests.”

On Saturday, Russia assisted Syria’s aerial defense system in thwarting an Israeli attack near the city of Homs in western Syria, a senior Russian military official said Saturday.

A Russian source told the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Moscow had already begun to aid the Assad regime in “closing off Syrian airspace to Israeli planes.”

The source said Russian military experts were already assisting Syrian anti-tank teams in intercepting Israeli missiles in the field through the use of the Buk missile system.