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Netanyahu presses Russian defence minister on Iran

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (2nd R), his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu (C) and Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot (R), listen to their national anthems during a welcome ceremony at the defence ministry on October 16, 2017 (AFP Photo/JACK GUEZ)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday, saying his country will not allow Iran to "establish itself militarily in Syria".

Both Russia and Iran, Israel's main enemy, are backing President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

"The meeting mostly dealt with Iran's attempt to establish itself militarily in Syria," Netanyahu's office said in a statement of the talks in Jerusalem.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu told Russian Defence Minister Shoigu, 'Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow this.'"

The statement said Netanyahu also told Shoigu that "Iran will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons within 8-10 years" if the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers including Russia is not changed.

Their talks came after Israel's military carried out an air strike on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria on Monday after it fired at its planes.

Israel has sought to avoid becoming more directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Shiite group, against which Israel fought a devastating 2006 war, is also militarily backing Assad's regime in the conflict.

Russia and Israel have established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria. Israel's military says Russia was informed "in real time" of Monday's strike.

Shoigu met Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday evening.

Lieberman said in a statement "we are not always in agreement, but we are communicating in a sincere and open manner".