Russian Efforts to ‘Control’ Syria Air Traffic

Russian Efforts to ‘Control’ Syria Air Traffic

Monday, 12 February, 2018 - 07:30
US troops sit atop an armored vehicle on a road near the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa. Delil Souleiman / AFP
Tel Aviv - Moscow - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted on Sunday that his country and the US were exerting efforts to prevent any confrontation between their warplanes in Syrian airspace. 

His comments came as a Russian official said that Moscow was ready to “cooperate with all states to reach calm” in the war-torn country.

Deputy head of the State Duma's defense committee Yuri Shvitkin said Moscow was ready to coordinate with any state that exerts efforts to secure peace in the region and fight terrorism.

Western diplomatic sources said that the Russian Hmeimim military base has intensified its hot-line contacts with Tel Aviv and with Tehran and Damascus’ “operation rooms” to “control Syrian airspace traffic,” after Israel downed an Iranian drone above the Golan Heights and attacked Iranian positions inside Syria on Saturday.

Lavrov also said that Russia’s contingent staying in Syria would continue to help regime forces confront ISIS.

“Our contingent remaining at the Hmeimim base will, naturally, help the Syria army repel ISIS militias," the Russian minister said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's air strikes in Syria last week constituted a "heavy blow" to Damascus and Tehran.

“We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us. This has been our policy and it will remain our policy,” he told a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

For his part, chief of Israel’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick said on Sunday that the army would not allow Iran to establish a “forward command post in Syria.”

"Whoever crosses the line will get the appropriate response,” the Israeli general said.

Meanwhile, at least six civilians, including two children, were killed on Sunday by heavy regime airstrikes in eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The monitor said regime warplanes pounded eastern Ghouta with at least 42 ground-to-ground and artillery shells, in addition to 19 raids on areas in Harasta, Hamuriya and Arbin.

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