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Russian foreign minister visiting Israel Monday for Syria talks

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: AFP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow’s military chief of staff will arrive in Israel later Monday for talks on the conflict in neighbouring Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin requested the meeting with Lavrov and General Valery Gerasimov “in a conversation with me a few days ago”.

The two leaders have held a number of discussions in recent months on the Syrian conflict and Iran’s military presence there, which Israel opposes.

A series of strikes that have killed Iranians in Syria have been attributed to Israel.

Iran is Israel’s arch-enemy and Netanyahu has pledged to keep it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

Both Tehran and Moscow are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.

On June 19, Syrian government forces launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake Daraa and Quneitra provinces in the country´s south, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Regime forces have now regained control of most of the two provinces through a combination of deadly bombardment and Moscow-brokered surrender deals.

Israel is eager to obtain guarantees that Iranian forces and allied groups, such as Hezbollah, are kept away from the Golan.

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