Russian officials on Wednesday announced that they had reached an agreement with both Israel and Iran regarding the deployment of military forces near the Israel-Syria border.
Israel has deemed the presence of Iranian forces in Syria an existential threat to the Jewish state, and demanded they be removed completely from the war-torn country.
Russia, the leading military power in Syria at this time and an ally of both the Syrian regime and Iran, responded recently that it can't force the Islamic Republic to withdraw its forces, and that their presence is crucial to defeating the remaining jihadists.
According to Russian Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, the matter is now resolved.
Speaking to the Sputnik news agency, Lavrentyev said that Iranian forces would withdraw to a distance of 85 kilometers (nearly 53 miles) from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights, and that Jerusalem has accepted this compromise.
If true, this would mark a serious reversal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just last month rejected a Russian offer to push Iranian forces back at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border. When he met with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Netanyahu pointed out that Iran and its allied forces in Syria possess missiles with a range much greater than 100 kilometers.
Netanyahu also insisted that under any agreement regarding the deployment of Iranian forces, Israel must retain the right to act militarily against any perceived Iranian threats. It was unclear if this stipulation remains part of the new reported agreement.
PHOTO: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Jerusalem. (Haim Zach/GPO)