Former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Saturday that the Russian army remains in Syria and its forces are not abandoning the fight against Islamic State.
Yadlin made the remarks at a cultural event in Beersheba, weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw. After his announcement, Putin instructed his diplomats to step up the push for peace as UN-mediated talks in Geneva.
Yadlin said that the fighting in Syria constitutes a real danger for Israel that is even greater than the Iranian nuclear threat and that it is third in its urgency behind the dangers posed by Hamas and ISIS. He said that 90 percent of the missiles in Syria, that presented a threat to Israel, had been used during the country’s five year civil war.
On the terror attacks in Brussels earlier this week that killed 31 people, Yadlin said that Europe has not woken up after the “alarm bells of the Paris attacks” of last year and had not altered its behavior regarding terror organizations. The former military intelligence chief said that information that Israel provided to the West has prevented terror attacks and the loss of life.
Syrian army battles to take Palmyra after seizing citadel
Syrian government forces fought Islamic State fighters around Palmyra on Saturday as they pressed their offensive to recapture the desert city from Islamic State militants, state media and a monitoring group said.
Syrian state television said the army, which drove Islamic State fighters out of the symbolic and strategic old citadel overlooking the west of the city on Friday, took full control of the northern district of Al-Amiriya.
But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting continued in that area, adding that Islamic State militants had launched counter-attacks – including car bombings – against government forces advancing in the city.
The recapture of Palmyra, which the Islamist militants seized in May 2015, would mark the biggest reversal for Islamic State in Syria since Russia’s intervention turned the tide of the five-year conflict in President Bashar Assad’s favor.