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Israeli PM plans to discuss Iran’s entrenchment in Syria with Putin

TEL AVIV, February 26. /TASS/. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he plans to discuss Iran’s entrenchment in Syria during the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin set to take place on February 27 in Moscow.

"Tonight, I leave for Moscow, in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow (February 27). Iran’s entrenchment in Syria will be at the center of our discussion," the PM’s press service cited Netanyahu.

"We are acting against it, we are attacking its bases and we will continue to act against it - and I will talk to the president about that," Netanyahu said. "We will not give Iran a base near our border," the Israeli prime minister said.

Initially, Netanyahu was scheduled for a visit to Russia on February 21, but the trip was postponed in view of the political situation in Israel ahead of an early parliamentary election on April 9. At a weekly government session on February 24, the prime minister said he wanted to discuss with Putin the strengthening of coordination between the military of Russia and Israel in order to maintain stability and avert unwanted tensions in the region.

Netanyahu’s visit to Russia will be the first one after the downing of a Russian aircraft off Syria. On September 17, 2018 Russia’s Il-20 aircraft was accidently downed by Syrian air defenses over the Mediterranean Sea when it was returning to the Hmeymim airbase.

Russian top brass said a missile from Syria’s S-200 system downed the aircraft when it targeted four Israeli F-16 fighter jets, which attacked facilities in Latakia. All 15 Russian crew members were killed in the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force and those who made the decision to use the Il-20 aircraft as cover are solely to blame for its crash, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said then.

On November 11, 2018, Putin and Netanyahu held a brief meeting in Paris. A few days later, the Russian president said at a press conference in Singapore that they had discussed the Il-20 incident.