On Thursday, Russia said it has “deep” concerns over Israel’s ongoing air campaign in Syria, warning the continued airstrikes could escalate tensions in the region and threaten civilian air traffic.
“Israel’s continuing strikes against targets inside Syria cause deep concern,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “They are a crude violation of Syria’s sovereignty and may trigger a sharp escalation of tensions.”
“Also, such actions pose serious risks to international passenger flights.” She said Russia opposes “attempts to turn Syria into a scene of armed confrontation between third countries.” The statement urged: “Once again we are insistently calling upon the Israeli side to refrain from such use of force.”
Israel claims its air campaign in Syria is meant to target Iran, but the airstrikes often kill Syrian soldiers. Syrian state media said one soldier was killed and five more were wounded in the latest Israeli attack, which happened Wednesday.
Russia has held talks with Israel on Syria, and in January, Russia said it would begin joint air patrols with Syria. The patrols will include areas near the Golan Heights, a frequent site of Israeli attacks, and Israel is said to be considering slowing the strikes.
Meanwhile, The Times of Israel details that this marks a change in policy for Russia: “Following the patrol, Ynet reported that Israeli military officials were holding talks with Russian army officers to calm tensions.”
The report said, “Israeli officials were struggling to understand why Russia, which announced that such joint patrols were expected to be a regular occurrence moving forward, had apparently changed its policy toward Israel.”