Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’

Netanyahu blocks Gaza aid funds after border flare-up — “Endless conflict and the steady rise of radicalisation on all sides.”

January 23, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked millions in Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip in response to renewed border hostilities, risking increased tensions with the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas during Israel’s election campaign.

Weeks of relative calm in the Gaza Strip ended Tuesday when Israeli soldiers were fired on along the border with the enclave in two separate incidents.

One soldier was lightly injured when a bullet hit his helmet.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to throw tear gas towards Israeli forces during a demonstration along the Gaza border on January 18, 2019

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to throw tear gas towards Israeli forces during a demonstration along the Gaza border on January 18, 2019 AFP/File

In response Israeli tanks struck two Hamas positions in Gaza, killing one militant, while overnight Israeli fighter jets struck what the army said was a Hamas military camp in northern Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and fears of a fourth round remain.

However violence has abated since November as a result of an informal truce between the parties.

Under that agreement Israel has permitted Gulf state Qatar, a rare Hamas ally, to bring in aid to the strip, including $15 million a month to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants and provide aid to impoverished residents.

The January payment had been expected to enter Gaza on Wednesday or Thursday but Netanyahu has decided to block it after the border-flare up, an Israeli official confirmed.

This is the first time that Israel has admitted to obstructing the transfer, which was already delayed by two weeks.

The payment would be the third of six planned tranches, totalling $90 million, in connection with the truce.

Israel’s permission is required since the cash must be delivered via its territory.

Hamas is labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, and banks are hesitant to make the transfer.

So far Hamas has stuck to indirect warnings against Israel but said Wednesday it held Israel fully responsible for any escalation.

At the funeral of the Hamas fighter Wednesday, mourners called for revenge as the body was accompanied by members of Hamas’s military wing.

– Conditions desperate –

Israel maintains a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip, the cramped territory wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean.

The Jewish state says it is necessary to isolate Hamas but critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the enclave’s two million residents.

The Qatari payments are controversial in Israel, where they have sparked opposition from right-wing activists and politicians.

In November Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned after accusing Netanyahu of being soft on Hamas following a flare-up.

The rightwing premier is now fighting a campaign ahead of April 9 elections, having long portrayed himself as “Mr Security” to Israelis.

Widely shared images of suitcases of cash being sent into Gaza through Israel could prove awkward for Netanyahu, running for a fifth term despite corruption allegations.

The father of Hadar Goldin — an Israeli soldier killed in the 2014 Gaza war and whose body Hamas is still believed to hold — told army radio Tuesday he believes the funds are ultimately going to Hamas.

“That’s what happens when you capitulate to terrorism,” Simha Goldin said.

The Gaza Strip came close to a new conflict a number of times in 2018, with Hamas-backed demonstrations along the border throughout the year.

The weekly protests have been calling for Palestinian refugees in Gaza to be able to return to their former lands now inside Israel.

Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.

At least 244 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March, mostly during border clashes but also by tank fire and airstrikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed.

Hamas said in a statement it “never accepts shedding the blood of the Palestinian people to fuel the Israeli elections advertising.”

United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned Tuesday that the living conditions in Gaza remained desperate and the risk of new conflict was high.

“There is no status quo; there is only a deterioration that, if left unchecked, without a vision and the political will for peace, can only lead to endless conflict and the steady rise of radicalisation on all sides,” he told the UN Security Council.

AFP

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Israel Hits Iranian Targets in Syria After Attack on Golan Heights

January 21, 2019

At least 11 people were killed by the Israeli strikes, four of them Syrian soldiers

Israel F-16 Jet (Picture-alliance/dpa/epa/A. Sultan)

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TEL AVIV—Israel struck Iranian targets in Syria in response to what it said was an Iranian rocket fired at the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, an exchange that raises the risk of a wider regional war as U.S. troops prepare to leave Syria.

Israel’s military said on Monday it hit Iranian targets including munition storage sites, a military training camp and a site at the Damascus International Airport in overnight strikes. Israel also struck several Syrian aerial defense batteries after Syria fired dozens of missiles at its jets, the military added.

Iran’s Quds Force, an elite arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was accused by Israel of Sunday’s rocket attack.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in a yearslong operation to foil Iranian military entrenchment on its northern border, but this is only the third time Israeli strikes have targeted Syria in response to a direct attack by Iran.

Israel’s military generally avoids commenting on its frequent individual strikes in Syria so as to maintain ambiguity and avoid retaliation. But an apparent change of tack in recent weeks has seen Israel going public following strikes, which could prompt the Iranians to respond and potentially escalate the exchange of fire into a bigger conflict.

Syrian state media said the country’s air defenses intercepted most of the missiles launched by Israel late Sunday night. Russia, which backs the Syrian government, said in a tweet from its Defense Ministry that Syrian air defense forces destroyed seven Israeli missiles. The Iranian military wasn’t immediately available for comment.

At least 11 people were killed by the Israeli strikes, at least four of them Syrian soldiers, according to the U.K.-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The attack consisted of airstrikes and ground-to-ground missiles targeting Hezbollah weapons depots and Iranian fighters, the monitoring group said.

Although military action by Iran and its allies against Israel has been limited throughout the Syrian war, Iranian officials often make verbal threats against Israel.

“They [Iran] thought they could change the rules of engagement. But our response was a clear one,” said Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

The overnight Israeli strikes followed what appeared to be tit-for-tat attacks on Sunday in which Syria said it defended against Israeli strikes at the Damascus Airport.

“We have a permanent policy, to strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and hurt whoever tries to hurt us,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday commenting on the airstrikes against the Damascus Airport that afternoon.

Mr. Netanyahu’s comments come as Trump administration officials are trying to reassure allies worried about U.S. commitment to the turbulent region after President Trump’s December order for U.S. troops to leave Syria.

A Syrian mobile anti-aircraft battery vehicle as seen through the targeting camera of an incoming Israeli missile, in footage released by the IDF of its early morning strikes in Syria on January 21, 2019. (IDF)
A still image taken from video footage released by the Israeli army shows Israeli military action in Syria. PHOTO: HANDOUT/REUTERS
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Israeli officials have expressed concern that a quick drawdown of American troops could give Iran an opportunity to expand its presence and influence in Syria. Forces loyal to Tehran, including Hezbollah, have helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reassert control over the entire country after nearly eight years of war and the fight against Islamic State.

On Monday, an Iran state-linked news website quoted the head of Iran’s air force as saying the country was impatient to fight Israel and destroy it.

“The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted as saying by the Young Journalist Club, a website supervised by state television. Iranian officials often make such comments and it wasn’t clear if Mr. Nasirzadeh was referring to the overnight Israeli strikes.

“We assure the people of Iran that we are in a position to respond to any threat, and certainly the enemy will not dare to invade our country because it always observes our readiness and power,” Mr. Nasirzadeh said.

—Sune Engel Rasmussen in Beirut contributed to this article

Corrections & Amplifications 
Iran’s Quds Force, an elite arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was accused by Israel of Sunday’s rocket attack. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the rocket attack took place on Saturday. (Jan. 21)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-hits-iranian-targets-in-syria-after-attack-on-golan-heights-11548070220

Related:

Israel PM Vows to Block ‘Iranian Aggression’

January 21, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israel would not allow “Iranian aggression”, after its military struck what it called Iranian targets in Syria in response to missile fire.

“Yesterday evening, the air force struck a strong blow against Iranian targets in Syria after Iran fired a missile from there toward Israel,” Netanyahu said at an inauguration ceremony for a new airport in southern Israel.

“We do not allow such acts of aggression to pass by. We are acting against Iran and against the Syrian forces who are tools of Iranian aggression.”

(AFP/File)

Israel struck what it said were facilities belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force early Monday in response to a missile attack it blamed on Iran.

The surface-to-surface missile, fired towards the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday and intercepted by air defences, followed an alleged Israeli strike in southern Syria.

The chain of events sparked concerns of an escalation, after a monitor reported 11 fighters killed in the overnight Israeli strikes.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and advanced arms deliveries to Tehran-backed Hezbollah.

It rarely publicly confirms them, though has in recent days spoken about the raids more openly.

Israel has pledged to keep arch-foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria.

AFP

Related:

Israel says strikes launched against Iranian targets in Syria

January 21, 2019

In an extraordinary statement, the Israeli military confirmed early Monday that it attacked Iranian military targets in Syria, hours after carrying out a rare daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport.

The statement was issued hours after Israeli missile defenses intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights in the wake of the airport raid.

Israel F-16 Jet (Picture-alliance/dpa/epa/A. Sultan)

“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” the military statement said. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”

Until now Israel has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations in neighboring Syria, in order to avoid large-scale involvement in the eight-year civil war.

The Syrian military said Israel carried out intensive airstrikes with successive waves of guided missiles shortly after 1 a.m., but added that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets.

On Sunday, Syrian state media said air defenses repelled an Israeli air raid near the international airport south of Damascus. State TV said Syria’s air defenses “prevented” the attack from achieving its goals. It said Israel targeted six missiles on an area near Damascus International Airport, of which five were shot down and one diverted to nearby empty farmland.

Residents of the capital said they heard five explosions early Sunday afternoon, apparently the sound of air defenses firing into the air.

Satellite image allegedly showing damage to buildings at Damascus International Airport caused by a May 11 Israeli airstrike, released by ImageSat International, on May 13, 2018. (ImageSat International)

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-strikes-said-to-destroy-iranian-hezbollah-sites-near-damascus/

The Israeli military had initially declined to comment on the Satellite image allegedly showing damage to buildings at Damascus International Airport caused by a May 11 Israeli airstrike, released by ImageSat International, on May 13, 2018. (ImageSat International), though it said a rocket fired at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.

Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon’s airspace recently to strike deep inside Syria, including attacking a warehouse near Damascus International Airport earlier this month, according to Syrian state media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that Israel has struck hundreds of targets in Syria linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, including a weapons facility two weeks ago. Iran and Hezbollah are allied with the Syrian government in the civil war.

Two hours after the reports that Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired toward the Golan Heights, Netanyahu, who currently is on a visit to Chad, said in a statement: “We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria and to harm anyone who tries to harm us.”

Illustrative: Flames rising after an attack in an area known to have numerous Syrian army military bases, in Kisweh, south of Damascus, released by Syria's official news agency on May 9, 2018. (SANA, via AP)

Illustrative: Flames rising after an attack in an area known to have numerous Syrian army military bases, in Kisweh, south of Damascus, released by Syria’s official news agency on May 9, 2018. (SANA, via AP)

Earlier Sunday, a roadside bomb went off south of Damascus without causing casualties, state media reported. The SANA news agency said the blast targeted a military checkpoint on a main highway during rush hour.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors Syria’s war, said the bomb targeted the vehicle of a “security personality” that it did not identify. The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said it was unclear whether the individual was killed or wounded. “It was not a random act,” he added.

Attacks have been rare in Damascus since Syrian government forces captured the last rebel-held neighborhoods and suburbs of the capital last year. Bombings have left hundreds dead over the course of the nearly eight-year civil war.

A Google Earth view of a Syrian scientific facility in Jamraya, near Damascus, before it was allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes in late January. (photo credit: image capture from Google Earth)

A Google Earth view of a Syrian scientific facility in Jamraya, near Damascus, before it was allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes in late January 2013. (photo credit: image capture from Google Earth)

In the northern Syrian town of Afrin, a blast aboard a bus killed at least three people.

The attack came on the anniversary of a Turkish military operation that evicted Kurdish fighters from the town and displaced tens of thousands of its residents. The town now is under the control of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

The Observatory said three people were killed and nine wounded in the explosion. The Syrian Civil Defense, an opposition-linked group known as the White Helmets, said that the blast killed “martyrs” and that others were wounded and rushed to hospitals.

(AP)

See also:

https://www.dw.com/en/israel-admits-strikes-against-iranian-quds-in-syria/a-47160785

and

Israeli strikes said to destroy Iranian, Hezbollah sites near Damascus

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-strikes-said-to-destroy-iranian-hezbollah-sites-near-damascus/

Iran says it will keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats

January 16, 2019

Iran will keep military forces in Syria, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria unless they quickly get out of there.

Image result for Mohammad Ali Jafari, pictures

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces and its weapons in Syria,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards top commander, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency. Jafari called Netanyahu’s threats “a joke”, and warned that the Israeli government “was playing with (a) lion’s tail.”

“You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head,” he said.

Iran and Russia have both backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a seven-year war against rebels and militants, and have sent thousands of soldiers to the country.

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli warplanes carried out an attack on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Reuters

Netanyahu tells Iran to get out of Syria ‘fast’

January 15, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged Iran to quickly remove its forces from neighboring Syria or face continued attacks on them by Israel.

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“Yesterday I heard the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman saying ‘Iran has no military presence in Syria, we only advise them’,” Netanyahu said at a Tel Aviv ceremony to install a new head of Israel’s armed forces.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that they had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times. (AFP)

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“So let me advise them — get out of there fast, because we’ll continue our forceful policy of attacking, as we promised and are doing, fearlessly and relentlessly,” he said.

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In a rare public confirmation on Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel had attacked what he described as “Iranian warehouses containing Iranian weapons in the Damascus international airport” over the weekend.

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Netanyahu added that Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times.

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Israel has pledged to prevent Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where its arch foe is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime alongside Russia and Hezbollah.

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At the ceremony for the new chief of staff, Lt. General Aviv Kochavi, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel’s central security challenge was “Iran and its terror emissaries,” saying the Israeli military had “prevented the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria.”

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Tehran denies sending regular troops to fight in Syria, saying it has only provided military advisers and militia fighters from various countries.

AFP

Israel says arrests Palestinian suspect in deadly shootings

January 8, 2019

Israeli forces arrested overnight a Palestinian accused of shooting dead two soldiers in the occupied West Bank last month and involvement in another attack that caused a baby’s death, authorities said Tuesday.

Assam Barghouti is accused of shooting the soldiers at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf settlement in the Ramallah area on December 13, police said.

At least two other people — including another soldier — were wounded, the army said at the time.

Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, also accused him of involvement along with his brother in another shooting attack nearby, close to the Ofra settlement, that caused the death of a baby and wounded seven.

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters during an incursion into the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 7, 2019

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters during an incursion into the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 7, 2019.  AFP

In the December 9 shooting, a pregnant woman was seriously wounded and her baby was born prematurely and later died.

Barghouti’s brother, Salah, 29, was killed during an arrest raid on December 12.

Asem (L) and Salih (R) Barghouti at a rally in Kobar after the former was released from Israeli prison in April 2018 (screenshot: Twitter)

Asem (L) and Salih (R) Barghouti at a rally in Kobar after the former was released from Israeli prison in April 2018 (screenshot: Twitter)

The armed wing of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, had claimed Salah Barghouti as one of its “fighters.”

The attacks boosted tensions and led to Israeli raids in parts of the West Bank, including in Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has his base, triggering Palestinian protests.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter saluted the arrest of a “vile terrorist”.

 

Jewish settlers and their right-wing supporters had held angry demonstrations over the December attacks.

A Kalachnikov assault rifle, magazines full of ammunition and night-vision equipment, which Israeli security forces believe a Palestinian terrorist, Asem Barghouti, was planning to use in an attack, found during an arrest raid in the West Bank village of Kobar on January 8, 2019. (Israel Police)

Assaf Barghouti was arrested at the home of an alleged accomplice in the West Bank village of Abu Shukheidim near Ramallah and was allegedly preparing more attacks, the Shin Bet said.

An AK-47 rifle, night-vision equipment and ammunition were seized during his arrest, according to the Shin Bet.

AFP

 A photo composite shows Sgt. Yosef Cohen, left, and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade. The two were killed on December 13, 2018, in a terrorist shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank. (Israel Defense Forces)
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See also:
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https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-nabs-suspected-givat-assaf-terrorist-after-nearly-month-long-manhunt/

Trump dares to act independently in Syria — Gets Help From Fake News By Wall Street Journal

January 7, 2019

Last weekend, The Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) headline was adorned with a fake news story penned by three people: Michael R. Gordon, Nancy A. Youssef and Dion Nissenbaum.

Such a big lie takes a big team to fabricate, indeed.

According to the WSJ story, Turkey is asking the U.S. government to provide extensive military support to fight against Daesh and the American military should increase its presence in Syria instead of reducing it.

As usual, the source of the story is an unnamed U.S. official who says the Trump administration is unlikely to provide all of the military support the Turks are seeking.

By Hakkı Öcal
Commentary
Daily Sabah

As I said before, nobody can hold a candle to Western journalists when it comes to ethics. Has the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, clearly and more than once said that Turkey is waiting for the U.S.’ total withdrawal from Syria to move in and cleanse northern Syria from Daesh terrorists? Yes, he has. Has Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, in a talk with troops on the border area only two days before the WSJ report was released, said that they would move in shortly after the U.S. troops completely leave the area? Yes, he has.

Image result for Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Pictures

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar

President Trump promised last month in a phone conversation with President Erdoğan that the U.S. would withdraw its troops in northern and eastern Syria, leaving the task of eradicating the Daesh terrorists to Turkey. If Turkey needed an extensive U.S. support, would Erdoğan not mention it during this deal with Trump? The U.S. president confidently announced to the U.S. media that, “Erdoğan said Turkey could do this job. I believe him. An able man. Turkey’s Erdoğan is the man for the job in Syria.”

Look at the press accounts of this announcement. You will see assessments as to how wrong the U.S. president is in leaving Syria, and how Turkey would invade Syria, how Iran would send additional Shiite guerrillas to the Israeli border, but not one single line about the additional demands of Turkey to finish off Daesh.

Yet we saw an international chorus coming in line and starting shouting arguments about why the U.S. should not leave Syria, not now, not ever. We saw that U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigning from his post; we saw the U.S. special representative to the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron tried to teach Trump a lesson or two on how to run his country.

Democrats rushed to the White House seeking assurances that Turks would not slaughter “Syrian Kurds” forgetting that more than a million Syrian Kurds fled to Turkey from the hands of the U.S.’ partner PKK-affiliated Syrian groups – the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey had provided safe haven to Iraqi Kurds when Saddam Hussein gassed hundreds of them to death.

Yet the neocon plan to create an entity under the rule of the PKK in Iraq and Syria in the area to be a bumper between Iran and Syria is still on the books, as it has been since 2007. The president accused his predecessors and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of creating “unnecessary wars” that would not serve the U.S. interests during his election campaign two years ago, but he hasn’t done yet anything to change those situations. He promised to withdraw the U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria but kept the military and civilian bureaucrats in their positions, the very people who added more personnel to the Afghanistan and Syria troops. Nobody tells the truth to the president at the White House. The closest people to him are in fact against his policies to bring the troops home. He must be wondering how he managed the armed forces and his Syria policies with Jim Mattis at the helm of the defense department.

Mattis and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against Daesh, have left in protest at his Syria policies but Trump should not feel too relieved; he still has other authors and defenders of that neocon policy in his team. Trump is now sending a group consisting of those who successfully brought his policy from “rapid withdrawal” to “let’s-discuss-a-timeline” to Ankara this week to discuss that timeline. We’ll see how it goes.

https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/hakki-ocal/2019/01/07/trump-dares-to-act-independently-in-syria

Related:

Conditions for US Syria withdrawal

January 7, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser on Sunday set out conditions for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, saying the defence of allies must first be assured.

The comments by John Bolton during a visit to Israel signalled a far more gradual US withdrawal than initially set out by Trump, whose December 19 announcement concerned allies and led to the resignation of defence secretary Jim Mattis.

Nicholas Kamm / AFP (file photo) | US national security advisor John Bolton speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 27, 2018.

Trump himself has more recently spoken of “slowly” sending troops home “over a period of time”, and Bolton laid out some of the conditions required before it takes place.

“We’re going to be discussing the president’s decision to withdraw, but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again,” Bolton said when meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

“And to make sure that the defence of Israel and our other friends in the region is absolutely assured, and to take care of those who have fought with us against ISIS and other terrorist groups.”

Israel is especially worried over whether the withdrawal will allow its main enemy Iran to expand its presence in the neighbouring country.

Netanyahu has pledged to continue to act against Iran in Syria.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and deliveries of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, a Shiite Lebanese militia backed by Tehran.

Earlier in the day, Bolton told journalists travelling with him that conditions such as guarantees on the safety of Kurdish allies must be met before American troops are withdrawn, NBC News reported.

Bolton also said all 2,000 US forces may not be pulled out, according to the report.

Image result for u.s. military, syria, photos

He said the withdrawal would take place in northeastern Syria, while some forces could remain to the south at the al-Tanf garrison as part of efforts to counter Iran’s presence.

‘Condition the withdrawal’

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” said Bolton, according to NBC.

“Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfilment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable.”

Kurdish-led forces control a large swathe of Syria’s north and northeast, some of it seized from the Islamic State group.

Despite backing from the US-led coalition and success in pushing back IS, Kurdish-led forces have at times incurred heavy losses.

A US withdrawal could leave them exposed to an attack by neighbouring Turkey — where Bolton travels on Monday — and its Syrian proxies.

The Kurds have invited Damascus to send troops into some of the territory it controls, to act as a bulwark against pro-Turkish forces.

Bolton’s visit was part of a US effort to reassure allies after Trump’s announcement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also met Netanyahu last week, leaves on Tuesday for an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and Kuwait City.

Netanyahu used Sunday’s meeting to again push for the United States and other countries to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed.

File: A screen capture from a video purporting to show the Syrian Army firing a Scud missile (image capture: YouTube)

File: A screen capture from a video purporting to show the Syrian Army firing a Scud missile (image capture: YouTube)

He said he planned to take Bolton to visit the Golan before he leaves for Turkey on Monday if weather permits.

“The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security and I think that when you’re there you’ll be able to understand perfectly why we’ll never leave the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said alongside Bolton.

“And why it’s important that all countries recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. I’ve discussed this with the president.”

(AFP)

Related:

Children receive treatment after a chemical attack in Douma, Syria, April 7, 2018.

Screenshot

Netanyahu talks post-US Syria strategy with Trump advisor (Bibi no fan of “cut and run”)

January 6, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would discuss Iranian ambitions in neighbouring Syria when he meets Sunday evening with US national security advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem.

Bolton arrived in Israel on Saturday night for talks on the future of Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all US forces there.

The announcement has concerned Israel and other US allies in the region, and Trump has since spoken of “slowly” sending troops home “over a period of time”.

“I will discuss with him efforts to stop Iranian aggression in our region, the situation in Syria, following President Trump’s decision, and the continuation of the conversation I held with President Putin on Friday,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

The phone call with Putin was the first between the leaders since Trump’s surprise statement that he was pulling all 2,000 troops from Syria, declaring that the United States had achieved its objective as the Islamic State group had been “knocked” out.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks during a news conference with visiting US national security adviser John Bolton at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on August 20, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks during a news conference with visiting US national security adviser John Bolton at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on August 20, 2018  POOL/AFP/File

Netanyahu’s office said he and Putin “discussed the situation in Syria and recent developments and agreed on continued coordination between the (Israeli and Russian) militaries”.

“Our position is clear,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “We continue at this time to act against the Iranian military buildup in Syria, and we are acting against anyone who undermines or tries to undermine Israel’s security.”

Image result for Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani, photos

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and deliveries of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran.

Israeli public radio said that Sunday evening’s meeting would also include Washington’s concerns over Chinese commercial and technological activity in the Jewish state.

Netanyahu has been delighted by Trump’s hard line on Israel’s main enemy Iran and the landmark move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but the pullout from Syria has caused concern.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brasilia on January 1, 2019 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brasilia on January 1, 2019 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

At a meeting on Tuesday in Brazil, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Israeli premier that the Syria pullout would not affect US support and protection of Israel.

“The counter-ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue, and our commitment to Middle East stability and protection of Israel continues in the same way before that decision was made,” he said using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Illustrative: US military forces in Syria in April 2018 (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Illustrative: US military forces in Syria in April 2018 (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)