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Netanyahu Warns Putin On Iran's Growing Influence In Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow on March 9.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about Iran's growing influence in Syria.

Speaking at the beginning of a March 9 meeting in Moscow, Netanyahu lauded Russia's role in trying to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists who are battling Syria's government.

But Netanyahu also warned that Iran cannot be allowed to gain a permanent foothold in any solution to the conflict.

Iran and Russia are both supporting Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad's government forces in the conflict.

"Today there is an attempt and the continuation of Persia, Iran, to destroy the Jewish state," Netanyahu said. "They say it in the clearest terms possible. They engrave it into their ballistic missiles."

The Israeli prime minister also warned of the danger posed by radical Shi'ite groups -- an apparent reference to Hizballah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi'ite group that also has fighters involved in the Syrian conflict.

The United States has labelled Hizballah a terrorist group.

Interfax quoted Putin as saying that he welcomed the chance to hold bilateral talks with Israel on security issues in the Middle East.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, Haaretz, and Interfax