Saturday November 10, 2018
US envoy to Syria James Jeffrey said yesterday that Russia should maintain a “permissive approach” towards Israeli airstrikes in Syria.
Speaking with journalists via a conference call, Jeffrey explained that “in the past Russia has been permissive in consultation with the Israelis about Israeli strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria,” adding that: “We certainly hope that that permissive approach will continue”.
Jeffrey said that Israel has “[an] existential interest in blocking Iran from deploying long-range power projection systems such as surface-to-surface missiles [in Syria]” and “we [the USA] understand this existential interest and we support Israel,” the Times of Israel reported.
Jeffrey’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Israel and Russia after the downing of a Russian military plane over Syrian airspace in September. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces allegedly mistook the Russian jet for an Israeli aircraft, having been simultaneously responding to Israeli attacks on targets in Syria’s coastal region of Latakia.
The incident sparked a diplomatic row after Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed that the Israeli jets carrying out the strikes in Latakia used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Russia placed the blame for the incident – in which 15 Russian personnel died – squarely with Israel, calling its actions “irresponsible” and accusing it of not giving Moscow sufficient notice of the attack.