Israeli military says Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militia groups are withdrawing from areas in Syria that were targeted by Israel in recent months.

A senior Israel Defense Forces officer said on Thursday that the apparent withdrawal of these forces from some regions is “a result of the IDF strikes” in recent weeks. He did not say which parts of Syria he was referring to.

Israeli defense officials have made such claims before, most recently in 2020.

The withdrawal of the forces detected by the IDF comes after the Saudi-owned London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Russian officials have asked the Iranians to leave several sites in Syria, including its military headquarters in the western Hama province, situated next to the Syrian army’s Regiment 49 base. The Regiment 49 site is one of the most important military sites in western Hama as it houses long-range S-200 missiles and other Russian-made military equipment.

According to the report, Russia’s call was meant to deprive Israelis of excuses or pretexts to continue the bombing of targets where Russian forces are present.

“The Russian officers also demanded that the Iranians evacuate a second military site in the Hamidiya area, south of Tartus governorate on the Syrian coast,” a source told the paper. 

Israel has intensified strikes on Syrian airports to disrupt Tehran's increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon including Hezbollah. 

Israel conducted several airstrikes against the Aleppo International Airport in northwestern Syria, hours before its missiles struck targets southeast of capital Damascus on August 31.

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