Israel wants to intensify cooperation with US in Syria

BRASILIA (Sputnik): Earlier, US President Donald Trump announced that Washington would be pulling its estimated 2,000 US troops out of Syria, and gave the Pentagon four months to complete the withdrawal.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would discuss ways to intensify intelligence and operations cooperation between the US and Israel in Syria and elsewhere to block what he said was “Iranian aggression in the Middle East,” Reuters has reported.

Netanyahu made the comments ahead of a meeting with Pompeo in Brasilia on Tuesday, where both men arrived to attend the inauguration ceremony of recently elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Earlier, an Israeli official told Israeli media that Netanyahu would ask Pompeo to slow the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. Ahead of the meeting, Pompeo assured Netanyahu that President Trump’s decision on Syria “in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel.”

“We will continue to fight ISIS and Iranian aggression,” Pompeo added.

Earlier, Israeli military intelligence chief Tamir Hyman charged Iran with working to increase its clout in Iraq and Syria as a “platform for a force build-up that could also threaten the state of Israel.”

On Monday, Trump turned to Twitter to defend his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, accusing his critics of hypocrisy and saying that any other US president would have been applauded as a “national hero” for the decision.

On December 19, the White House announced that it would be withdrawing US troops from Syria within the next 60 to 100 days. The decision prompted US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and special presidential envoy for the US coalition in Syria to announce that they would be resigning. Trump justified the withdrawal by saying that US forces had achieved their primary goal in Syria — the defeat of Daesh.