Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, August 31, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria Wednesday evening in a telephone conversation, reportedly initiated by Netanyahu, according to the TASS news service.

The two men “discussed the Syrian issue, including in light of the recent missile strikes by the Israeli Air Force on the T-4 airfield in the Homs province.”

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Putin “stressed it was fundamentally important to respect Syria’s sovereignty and urged to refrain from any moves that further destabilize the situation in that country and pose a threat to its security,” the news agency reported.

The Prime Minister’s office later released a statement and confirmed that Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and reiterated that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.

On Wednesday night, Lebanon’s national carrier and Air France both announced they were temporarily changing the course of their flights due to the rising tensions in the region, according to the Arabic-language Sky News broadcast.

The Lebanese airline said it was avoiding passing through Syrian air space on its way to Europe and Gulf countries, and Air France announced it had changed the route of its flights to Beirut and Tel Aviv due to fears of an escalation in the region.

Earlier in the day, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) confirmed to reporters that it has warned airline companies about the possibility of military action in the eastern Mediterranean.

It was not clear, however, whether the concern was over the possibility of retaliation by Iran for the deaths of its military personnel at the T-4 air base, or fears over the rising tensions between the United States and Russia over the horrific chemical attack by Syrian regime forces on the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma last Saturday.

“We informed EASA member states and Eurocontrol Network Manager yesterday that due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours as of yesterday, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia Flight Information Region area,” EASA had said in its statement.

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