18:51 GMT27 January 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump and Israel's prime minister discussed key regional issues and bilateral topics during a phone conversation, the White House said in a statement.

    "Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. The two leaders discussed critical bilateral and regional issues", the statement said.

    Tensions in the Middle East have escalated recently, raising concerns among the states in the region, as well as on the international level, after Iran top military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US targeted attack on Baghdadi International Airport on Friday. The United States believe he was planning on attacking American military personnel on 4 January and that by killing him they saved lives.

    Netanyahu earlier praised President Trump on eliminating Gen. Soleimani, saying that the man was allegedly responsible for "carrying out dozens of terror attacks in the Middle East".

    Just months before Soleimani's assassination, Israeli Mossad chief Yossi Cohen told an Israeli magazine that his agency could easily target Iran's general. The reason he was still alive then was, according to Cohen, that Soleimani had "not yet made a mistake which put him on the list of Mossad’s liquidators".

    Iran took its "revenge" for the country's top military figure by conducting airstrikes at US military facilities in Erbil and the al-Assad Air Base in Iraq, which was dubbed as Operation Martyr Soleimani.

    Soleimani was a highly respected figure in Iranian politics and has been praised for combating a wide range of terrorist groups in the region, including Daesh*, and for being an "architect" of the Iranian security structure.

    No US personnel were injured in the attack, Trump said cheerfully in his address to the nation on early Wednesday, but said the US would retaliate with economic sanctions against Tehran and that he would ask NATO to boost its involvement in the Middle East.

    Both the United States and its ally Israel have been on bad terms with Iran, which they consider as an "illegitimate regime" that is destabilising the region. The US has repeatedly called on Tehran to "change its regime" or face collapse. Wahington has imposed sanctions on Tehran and designated Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force as a terrorist organisation.

    Israel has accused Iran of waging "proxy wars" in the region, boosting its presence in neighboring Syria and, due to these concerns, has repeatedly targeted alleged "Iran-allied forces" in the region.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia

    defence, military, war, phone call, White House, Donald Trump, Israel, Iran, Iraq, United States
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