Netanyahu vows Israel will defend itself after U.S. pullout from Syria

JERUSALEM, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel will defend itself after the United States withdraws from Syria.

The Israeli leader said he discussed with U.S. President Donald Trump the White House’s intention to withdraw its forces from Syria. “I spoke with Trump on Monday and with American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.

“The American administration told me that it is the president’s intention to withdraw their forces from Syria,” he said, adding that “they made it clear that they have other ways of expressing their influence in the area.”

Netanyahu said Israel needs to study the decision. “We will study its timetable, how it will be implemented and – of course – its implications for us.”

He stressed that “in any case, we will take care to maintain the security of Israel and to defend ourselves in this area.”

The remarks were made hours after the White House officially approved that the U.S. had started to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Israel maintains that it has not been involved in the war in Syria but it has carried out hundreds of airstrikes and artillery shooting, targeting Iranian and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army positions as well as weapons convoys for Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia.

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