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Can Israel influence the 'day after' in Syria?

Israeli experts fear that the Russian pullout of Syria will provide Hezbollah with influence along the border of the Golan Heights.
Israel's Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot speaks at the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner - RTX22X9B

The day after President Vladimir Putin’s March 14 surprise announcement of Russia’s intention to withdraw its army from Syria, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, went before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and reportedly admitted, “We had no preliminary information prior to the Russian announcement last night about reducing involvement, just as others did not.” According to the chief of staff, Israel had, however, preliminary knowledge of Russia’s earlier decision regarding the beginning of its military involvement in Syria. “We had signs and reports received by Military Intelligence,” Eizenkot said.

The chief of staff's reference to “others” was evidently hinting that the United States had also been kept in the dark, unaware of Putin’s intention to leave Syria. Putin’s announcement was delivered while Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was at a work meeting with his US counterpart, Ashton Carter, at the Pentagon. It is believed that Eizenkot was told by the entourage accompanying Ya'alon in Washington that the Americans had also been caught by surprise.

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