(January 4, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Friday to increase cooperation between their two countries in Syria amid the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from there.
In a phone call between the two leaders, Netanyahu expressed Israel’s interest in preventing Iran from establishing a presence in Syria, according to the prime minister’s office.
“To that end, the parties reaffirmed their mutual determination to strengthen coordination through military and diplomatic channels,” the Kremlin said according to the state-run TASS news service.
Additionally, “Netanyahu congratulated President Putin and the Russian people on the occasion of the civil new year and expressed his condolences over the disaster in Magnitogorsk,” according to the prime minister’s office.
Ties between Israel and Russia have seen ups and downs since the country entered into the Syrian civil war in 2015.
While the two countries have coordinated their separate military efforts in the country in order to avoid accidental conflict, an incident last September when Syrian anti-aircraft fire downed a Russian aircraft, killing 14 crew members, following an Israeli airstrike set off tensions between the two countries.
Israel has wanted Russia to do more to crackdown on Iran’s buildup in Syria, as well as its ties to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.