Photo Credit: Courtesy the Kremlin
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Sochi

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad sent Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a message last week via Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, saying he’s ready to discuss conditions that would allow his administration to remain in office, according to a report by Nana 10, quoting Kuwait’s Al Jarida newspaper.

Syria reportedly offered Netanyahu a deal that would include disarming a zone in the Golan Heights spanning 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Israeli-Syrian border — if Netanyahu agrees not to work to remove Assad from power. Putin then called Netanyahu with the message, according to the report.

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The report also said Assad would consider autonomy for the Druze and Kurds in Syria.

The unnamed Western source said Israel’s prime minister expressed his readiness to discuss Assad’s demands with the security establishment of the Jewish State, but he underscored the condition that Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, must be removed from Syria.

Netanyahu has made it plain that Israel will destroy any Iranian base that remains in Syria or in Lebanon because the Jewish State considers it to be an existential threat. Iran and Hezbollah have both repeatedly vowed to annihilate Israel.

The source was quoted as saying that Israel sees Assad as being the last Alawite president in Syria. The Alawite community is one that is linked to the Shi’ite Muslim world, and thus tied to Shi’ite Hezbollah and Iran — which has managed this year through Syria to complete a Shi’ite land bridge to Beirut.

While Israel made a point of staying out of the six-year Syrian civil war, it is nevertheless provided humanitarian and medical care to those who came to the border seeking assistance, later bringing them back to the border to return home. Some were allegedly rebel fighters.

The IDF has not hesitated to return fire when “spillover” gunfire and shelling reached across Israel’s northern border, with occasional mortar shells, missiles, rockets and other ordnance landing on Israel’s side of the Golan Heights. Sometimes Israeli soldiers were injured, and IDF vehicles were struck. Israel’s response at first was sluggish, and then hesitant — but finally it became swift and harsh as the “spillover” fire became more frequent and seemed more targeted.

Israel also did not hesitate to strike strategic targets as it deemed necessary to maintain its security edge, including weapons depots sending arms to Hezbollah from Iran, and chemical weapons factories that appeared to be reactivating. By and large, Russia did not interfere with Israeli military activities, and Israel clearly appeared to have notified the U.S. and Russia ahead of any of its strikes.

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