US committed to 'protection of Israel' despite Syria withdrawal, Pompeo assures Netanyahu

US committed to 'protection of Israel' despite Syria withdrawal, Pompeo assures Netanyahu
The US 'withdrawal' from Syria might not mean the end of all its Syria-related operations where Israel is concerned, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed Washington’s ongoing commitment to Israel’s security on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brazil, Pompeo said the US’ commitment to Israel was unchanged, despite the pullout of US troops from Syria announced by the Trump administration last month. Pompeo said that the US effort to “counter Iranian aggression” would continue along with the “protection of Israel” just as it had before.

The talks between Pompeo and Netanyahu in Brasilia are set to focus on the US withdrawal and how the US-Israeli cooperation will work going forward.

Before the meeting, Netanyahu said there was “a lot” to discuss including how to “intensify even further our intelligence and operations cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian aggression in the Middle East.”

READ MORE: ‘We give them $4.5bn a year’: Israel will still be ‘good’ after US withdrawal from Syria – Trump

Earlier, Trump had reassured Israel that the US wouldtake great care of Israel despite the withdrawal, citing the billions in foreign aid Washington gives to Israel every year.

Netanyahu said he was very appreciative of the “strong support and unequivocal support” from the US in its efforts at “self-defense” against Syria and Hezbollah.

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He also praised the Israeil Defense Forces last week after they carried out strikes against alleged 'Iranian targets' on Christmas Day, endangering two civilian flights in the process.

Trump declared victory over ISIS in Syria and announced a US troop withdrawal in December — a move which angered many top military figures. On Monday, an anonymous senior Israeli source said that Trump had responded positively to a request from Netanyahu to stagger the US exit from Syria.

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