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US-Israeli Plan to Counter Iran’s Influence in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A girl carrying a baby inspects damage in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 10, 2016.REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Tel Aviv, Beirut – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday to voice US-Israeli concerns over Iran’s attempts to expand its influence in Syria, Israeli sources reported.

Netanyahu’s spokesman said that during the latest phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, the Israeli prime minister coordinated stances towards Iran on the eve of his visit to Russia.

A ministerial official with a military background said that Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles was a provocation to both the US and Israel, adding that Tehran’s “vital interests” in Syria could soon be targeted.

When asked whether Israel would bomb Iranian forces in Syria, the official said: “Anything Iranian that moves in Syria will be a target”.

Threats to target Iranian forces in Syria coincided with heavy raids by the Syrian regime on eastern Ghouta, breaking a fragile truce announced earlier by Russia in the area located near Damascus.

The heavy shelling killed two people less than 24 hours after Russia announced a freeze in fighting there.

“Military aircraft, either Russian or Syrian, carried out two strikes on the edge of Arbin,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“These are the first air strikes since the truce was announced” on Tuesday afternoon, Abdel Rahman was quoted by AFP as saying, adding that regime artillery also struck the town of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta.

Senior Army of Islam official Mohammad Alloush blamed the attacks on Moscow.

Speaking to AFP, he said: “Russia’s announcement of a cessation of hostilities in Eastern Ghouta is a political announcement — militarily, it’s not being executed.”

“Russia wants to present itself as neutral and a sponsor of a political solution (to the Syrian conflict), but on the ground it’s a different case,” he said.

“This announcement came late. It was supposed to be announced on March 5, but the regime didn’t commit to it. Even with this announcement, there is no agreement from the regime on a freeze,” he added.