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Syria denies reports about meeting Israeli officials at Russian air base

January 19, 2021 at 6:21 pm

A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet is prepared for take off at the Russian military base of Hmeimim, located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Syria, on 26 September 2019 [MAXIME POPOV/AFP via Getty Images]

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has dismissed reports about alleged secret meetings with Israeli officials last month at a Russian airbase in Hmeimim, Syria.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Russian-brokered meeting covered several issues, including Israel’s demand for the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria and Syrian officials’ request for their country’s reinstatement in the Arab League to be “facilitated”; financial aid to pay debts to Iran; and the lifting of western sanctions on Damascus.

The report cited the Turkish-based Jusoor for Studies website, which focuses on Syrian political and social affairs. It claimed that the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, Ali Mamlouk, presidential palace security aide Bassam Hassan, Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and the commander of Russian forces in Syria, Alexander Chayko, were present at the meeting.

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However, the Syrian state news agency SANA reported that that the government has denied the accusations “circulated by some hired media outlets” about any such Syrian-Israeli meetings.

“The Syrian Arab Republic categorically denies the untrue news marketed by some mass media about holding any Syrian-Israeli meetings anywhere,” said an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry.

The ministry source went on to say that Syria affirms that the forces behind the claims are the same ones that seek to normalise ties with Israel. Syria has been officially at war with Israel since the occupation state was founded in Palestine in 1948. There have never been diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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