Israel's MI Chief Accompanied Netanyahu to Putin Meet, Gave Fresh Intel on Syria

Israel's head of military intel probably passed the Russian president information on chemical weapons used on Syrian rebels; Putin to Netanyahu: Moves that could destabilize situation in Syria must be avoided.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel's Military Intelligence chief has presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with updated information on the turmoil in Syria, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. The details are unclear, but the intelligence from Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi probably concerns chemical weapons and their use against the rebels in Syria's civil war.

Kochavi also provided information on the transfer of sophisticated arms from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Kochavi is in Russia with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials for talks with the Russian leader.

Putin and Netanyahu met for more than three hours in the Russian president's residence in Sochi on the Black Sea coast. At a press conference after the meeting, Putin addressed the Western countries considering declaring a no-fly zone in Syria, but he was also addressing Netanyahu following this month's air strikes in Syria that the foreign press has attributed to Israel.

"Moves that could destabilize the situation in Syria must be avoided," Putin said. "The only way to prevent a negative scenario in Syria is the soonest end of the armed conflict and the beginning of political settlement".

According to the Russian leader, “We agreed to continue contacts – both on the personal level and between our organizations, special services.”

Russian defense systems to Syria

According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu was set to ask the Russian president not to supply advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria.

Last Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had no new plans to sell an advanced air defense system to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but left open the possibility that it could ship such systems to Damascus under an existing contract.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Israel told the United States about an imminent Russian deal to sell S-300 missile systems that would significantly boost Syria’s ability to stave off intervention in the civil war.

Senior Israeli officials said Netanyahu had brought up the missile issue in a telephone conversation with Putin, and in another conversation that happened Wednesday with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Journal said the deal had been signed in 2010 and would be carried out in the next three months.

Syria had already made the first payment of the $900 million deal to Russia and would receive six launchers and around 144 missiles, it said.

“Russia is not planning to sell,” Lavrov said when asked about the reports during a visit to Warsaw.

“Russia already sold them a long time ago. It has signed the contracts and is completing deliveries, in line with the agreed contracts, of equipment which is anti-aircraft technology.”

The question referred to S-300 systems, but Lavrov did not specify whether the systems being delivered were S-300s or others.

Benjamin Netanyahu with Vladimir Putin. Credit: AP

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