Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Denies Iran Alliance in Syria: 'Israel Is a Priority'

Asked whether Moscow and Tehran are allies in Syria, Sergei Ryabkov says: 'I wouldn't use this type of words to describe where we are with Iran'

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Haaretz
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing on SSC-8/9M729 cruise missile system at Patriot Expocentre near Moscow, Russia January 23, 2019.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing on SSC-8/9M729 cruise missile system at Patriot Expocentre near Moscow, Russia January 23, 2019. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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Haaretz

Russia's deputy foreign minister told CNN Friday that Russia and Iran are not allies in Syria and that Moscow is committed to Israel's safety.

Asked whether Moscow and Tehran are allies in Syria, Sergei Ryabkov said: "I wouldn't use this type of words to describe where we are with Iran."

Rybakov added: "We in no way underestimate the importance of measures that would ensure very strong security of the state of Israel. This is one of the top priorities of Russia."

Rybakov also denied U.S. President Donald Trump was a Russian agent or that Russia intervened in U.S. elections, saying: "We are not that threatening. We are not trying to meddle in U.S. affairs."

On Wednesday, Russia said that Israel should stop carrying out what it called arbitrary air strikes on Syria days after the Israeli air force targeted Iranian forces there.

Israel, which regards Iran as its biggest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied militia, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

"The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case, we are talking about Syria, should be ruled out," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, in answer to a question from Russian news agency TASS about recent Israeli air strikes on Syria.

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