Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively warned Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu not to attack Syria again on Wednesday, just days after Israel reportedly bombed an airbase in Syria. The airstrike—which Iran’s Fars News Agency claimed killed multiple Iranian military advisers—followed reports of chemical weapons being used by the Syrian regime against its own people. On Tuesday, Russia—a key Syrian ally and militarily backing the regime in that country’s civil war—vetoed a United Nations resolution to investigate the incident.
Putin found time the next day to speak with Israel’s Prime Minister. A brief but unusually detailed press release posted to the Russian Presidency’s website claimed that Israel struck the Syrian airbase, while saying the leaders discussed Syria. The press summary said Putin, in speaking with Netanyahu, “emphasized the importance of respecting Syria’s sovereignty and called for refraining from any steps that could further destabilize the situation in the country and threaten its security.”
Netanyahu’s office released an even briefer statement on the call, saying that Netanyahu “reiterated that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.”
Targeting a base that housed Iranians may have been an intentional message to the Islamic Republic, presuming Israel did in fact launch the attack. Israel has repeatedly expressed its opposition to any ongoing Iranian military presence in Israel’s northern neighbor. Iran has strongly supported the Syrian regime, including with personnel inside the country.
While no nation has claimed credit for the airstrike earlier this week in Syria, the United States may also bomb Syria over the regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons. US President Donald Trump on Wednesday mocked Russia’s warnings against such a strike and promised that missiles were coming on Twitter.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” tweeted President Trump.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, took to Twitter in a series of posts on Monday to confirm the reports that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on their own people. The tweets accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of “a long series” of chemical weapons attacks after Assad promised to disarm from the weapons and even highlighted the regime’s continued development of the weapons of mass destruction.
“The attack shows clearly that Syria continues to possess lethal chemical weapons capabilities and even to manufacture new ones. In so doing Syria is grossly violating its obligations and the decisions of the international community in this matter,” tweeted the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
The comments come as one of the chief rabbis in Israel has called the Syrian regime’s actions “genocide” and the chairman of Israel’s Holocaust museum—Yad Vashem—said the chemical weapons attacks show a failure to properly respond to the lessons of the Holocaust.
“In light of the horrific images emanating from Syria over recent days of the mass killing of civilians, including children, in the chemical attack, it would appear that the mechanisms and international bodies developed after the Holocaust to prevent
the recurrence of crimes against humanity are failing,” said Chairman Avner Shalev in a press release from Yad Vashem.
“The terrible scenes we are witnessing, right across our border, are a result of and continue to occur due to the indifference of the world. I call on the global community not to stand on the sidelines, but to act determinedly to put an end to the human suffering and provide humanitarian aid to the victims.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 11, 2018)