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Netanyahu, Putin to Meet on Regional Issues as Syria Regime Violates Russia-Brokered Ceasefire | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Sochi in May. (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladmir Putin next week to discuss “the latest developments in the region,” the premier’s office announced in a statement.

The two officials will meet on Wednesday in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Israel and Russia have established a special mechanism to prevent friction between their air forces in Syria.

Russia is active in Syria providing support to Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad.

Israel has tried to stay out of the fighting in the neighboring country, but its air force frequently strikes weapons shipments directed toward Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” that is backing Assad’s regime.

Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire.

On Saturday, Syrian jets and artillery struck rebel-held eastern Damascus suburbs a day after a Russian sponsored ceasefire with a rebel group agreed a halt of fighting in the last opposition enclave in the capital, rebels and witnesses said.

The Russian defense ministry said on Friday it had reached a ceasefire that took effect at 21.00 hrs Moscow time (1800 GMT) with Faylaq al Rahman, the main Free Syrian Army (FSA) group fending off a two-month widescale Syrian regime offensive in the Joubar district and nearby town of Ain Tarma.

A spokesman for Faylaq al Rahman said both Joubar, which lies some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City wall, and nearby Ain Tarma on the edge of Eastern Ghouta witnessed army strikes and shelling soon after the ceasefire went into effect.

“After the first few hours … there were many violations midnight they dropped barrel bombs and from the morning there have been strikes across the Ghouta,” Wael Alwan, spokesman for the group, said.

At least five civilians were killed in the towns of Hamouriya and Zalamka and fighters said there were several case of suffocation from rockets filled with chlorine that were fired at the front lines of Jobar and Ain Terma, he added.

Moscow said on Friday that the ceasefire meant an earlier one announced last month in Eastern Ghouta now included all the moderate opposition groups in the main rebel stronghold that stretches from eastern to northeastern suburbs of Damascus.

The regime has not commented on the latest Russian agreement with Faylaq al Rahman whom it considers a terrorist group that threatens the capital. It however says it abides by truces Moscow has brokered.