Israeli, Russian Armies to Form Joint Committee on Syria Actions

Committee will coordinate naval and aerial activities, military chiefs agree in Moscow meeting.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov shake hands in Moscow, Russia, September 21, 2015.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov shake hands in Moscow, Russia, September 21, 2015.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israeli and Russian militaries will form a joint committee to coordinate their activities in Syria, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov agreed in a meeting in Moscow on Monday evening.

The committee, which will be headed by the countries' deputy chiefs of staff, would coordinate both naval and aerial activities, as well as electro-magnetic activities, to avoid interference in electronic warfare, a senior Israeli officer told reporters.

"There's aerial activities to the north of the country that may or may not overlap with the Russians' activities there," the officer said.

The two deputy chiefs of staffs are set to meet in two weeks, though it has yet to be decided whether the meeting will take place in Israel or in Russia. The officer said the frequency of the meetings would be decided later on.

The officer refused to say whether the United States was briefed regarding the coordination between the two militaries.

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow the two sides agreed to establish a coordination mechanism to prevent misunderstandings and unintended confrontations between the Israeli military and Russian forces deployed in Syria.

"This is very important for Israel's security, and this is the first, clear outcome of this conversation," Netanyahu told reporters at the conclusion of his visit to Russia. "It's enough to imagine the alternative – a dangerous confrontation with Russia, and dealing with these misunderstandings after the fact – to understand the importance of this visit."

Netanyahu noted that he briefed the U.S. administration on the details of his trip to Russia and the issues that were discussed with Putin. "Everyone has an interest in preventing an unnecessary clash," Netanyahu said. "Our ties with the U.S. are of foremost importance, strong, steadfast and stable. We are entirely coordinated on this matter."

Netanyahu added that the bulk of the conversation with Putin, which lasted two and a half hours, was dedicated to the security situation on Israel's northern border. He noted that he made it clear to the Russian president that Israel will continue to take action to prevent the transfer of lethal weapons from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah and to thwart Iranian attempts to carry out terror attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights.

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