Russia gave Israel advance notice of its impending air strikes in Syria on Wednesday, western defense sources said.
For the first time, Russia launched air strikes against Islamic State in Syria on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament's unanimous backing to intervene to prop up the Kremlin's closest Middle East ally.
Israel did not receive any information on where geographically the strikes would occur. The airstrikes appeared to be carried out in the Homs area, leading the US and France to suggest that Russia was not targeting Islamic State positions, but rather other groups opposing Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Gadi Eisenkott flew to Russia last week for intensive meetings with Russian officials on efforts to coordinate with Moscow amid its military roll-out in Syria.
After the meetings it was concluded that the IDF and Russian military would set up a joint working group to coordinate their Syria-related activities in the aerial, naval, and electromagnetic arenas, a senior defense source said.
According to foreign reports, the Israel Air Force has launched multiple air strikes in recent years to intercept Iranian and Syrian weapons that were on the way to Hezbollah storage facilities in Lebanon.
Israel has shared concerns with Russia that it’s interceptions could be compromised if military coordination is not put into place soon.
In Russia, Eisenkot met with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Vasilevich Gerasimov – the first time chiefs of staff from Russia and Israel held a direct meeting in Moscow. Eisenkot also participated in part of the meeting held between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Afterward, the two sides agreed to set up a joint working group led by the deputy chiefs of staff from each country. The first meeting will occur next week, and the location will be decided in the coming days.
A source told The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday that the new working group should enable the two militaries to "coordinate on everything" that is Syria-related, thereby avoiding inadvertent clashes.