Netanyahu, Trump hold phone call over Iran’s presence in Syria

Netanyahu, Trump hold phone call over Iran’s presence in Syria

JERUSALEM (Rahnuma): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he had held a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump over Iranian military presence in Syria.

The call came a day after Trump announced the U.S. decision to withdraw forces from the war-torn country as the Islamic State (IS) militant group had been defeated.

According to a statement released by Israeli Prime Minister’s office, the two leaders discussed “ways to continue the cooperation … against the Iranian aggression.”

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu vowed to “act very aggressively against Iran’s attempts to establish itself in Syria,” saying Israel has the backing of the White House in its actions against the Islamic republic.

The U.S. withdrawal announcement was seen in Israel as an embarrassment to Netanyahu’s foreign policy established on his close ties with Trump.

Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party and Israeli former finance minister, described the U.S. “surrender” as “a failure of Netanyahu’s foreign policy.”

“It clears the way for Iran’s expansion and narrows Israel’s ability to bargain with the Russians,” he tweeted.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s former prime minister, said the move exposed Netanyahu’s dependence on his ties with U.S. and Russian leaders.

“Trump is deserting Syria and the Iranians are celebrating,” Barak tweeted.

Israel and Syria share a disputed border in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

The Israeli military has carried out dozens of airstrikes in recent years against Iranian and Syrian army positions in Syria, as well as convoys of weapons for Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militia.

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