Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia on Wednesday that its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be safe from Israel, but Moscow should encourage Iranian forces quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.
The message, which the official said Netanyahu conveyed in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, came just hours after Israel shot
down what it described a Syrian drone that had penetrated its airspace, underscoring the frontier's volatility.
Israel has been on high alert as Assad's forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, much of which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Israel worries Assad could let his Iranian and Hezbollah reinforcements entrench near Israeli lines or that Syrian forces may defy a 1974 Golan demilitarisation.
"They (Russia) have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out. These can clash or it can align," the Israeli official said.
"We won't take action against the Assad regime," the official quoted Netanyahu as telling Putin in Moscow, and added the Israeli leader came away reassured that "they (Russia) are getting the Iranians out".