"Those who should leave Syria are the ones who entered it without consent".
After a surprise visit by Assad to Russia Thursday, President Vladimir Putin announced that Damascus had agreed to send a delegation to United Nations-chaired constitutional talks in Geneva.
For this reason most media outlets commenting on Putin's reference to "foreign forces" interpret this as a jab at key Syrian ally Iran; however, a number of Middle East based journalists and analysts point to U.S. occupying forces in Syria's northeast, as well as Turkey's military and armed proxy groups in the formerly Syrian Kurdish Afrin canton near Aleppo, and the tens of thousands for foreign jihadists that continue to fight in Syria - many of them state sponsored by Saudi Arabia and other external actors.
Israel has been acting as a de facto air force of the militants for some time but its extensive raids on May 10 were its most brazenly direct engagement in Syria's fight on terrorism. The plane, an Ilyushin IL-76T, is owned by the Syrian Arab Airlines, and is mostly used to transport military cargo from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Syria. Russian Federation emerged as Assad's most powerful backer, helping to put down a rebellion against the Syrian President when it intervened on his behalf in 2015. Along with Hezbollah and other Iran-backed armed groups, Iran has helped to prop up the embattled President. "Any outside aggression against the Syrian territory is an aggression", Syrian Ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad told reporters in the Russian city of Sevastopol on Saturday.
"In previous meetings, given statements that were putatively attributed to - or were made by - the Russian side, it was meant to have limited our freedom of action or harm other interests and that didn't happen, and I have no basis to think that this time will be different", said Netanyahu.
Explosions rocked an area thought to house an Iranian facility near Damascus early Monday morning, according to a report in Sky News Arabia.
The goal of "Operation Chess" was to prevent Iran from carrying out reprisals for an Israeli airstrike against the Iranian-controlled T-4 air base in central Syria on April 9, which killed at least seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a senior officer responsible for its drone program.
Tensions between the two regional arch-rivals came to a head last week after missiles were launched from Syria targeted Israeli positions in the Golan Heights.