US Urges Russia to Join Efforts to Counter Iran
17:36 22.05.2019(updated 19:40 22.05.2019)
The war of words between the US and Iran intensified earlier in the month after the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force near Iran in response to what Washington called a potential threat from Tehran.
Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS James Jeffrey called on Russia to influence Syria's President Bashar al-Assad into ordering the withdrawal of Iranian forces from the country.
"We believe that Russia can play an important role in resolving this conflict just as it played an important role in making it worse and that was the reason that Secretary [Mike] Pompeo went to Sochi and President [Vladimir] Putin met with him because President Putin also… would like to find a solution to this conflict because it is a dangerous one for Russia", Jeffrey said.
The senior official proceeded by saying that Russia and the US had common interests in Syria.
Jeffrey claimed that there are more than 10,000 soldiers from third countries in Syria that are controlled by Iran, including Hezbollah militants. The official continued by claiming that in addition to direct military support, Iran provides drones, radar systems, and other equipment.
"What really concerns us more is Iranian power projection systems – long range missile, drones, radar systems, air defense capabilities that you do not need to fight an internal civil war", Jeffrey told the committee.
Tehran has been accused of using Syria as a playground for a possible future military attack against neighbouring Israel. Tehran has repeatedly denied those claims, stressing that it solely provides military advisors' assistance to Syria at Damascus' request to help the country in its fight against terrorism.
The escalation of tensions between the US and Iran reached new level earlier this month, when the US imposed more anti-Iranian sanctions and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and Patriot interceptors to the Middle East to grapple with what Washington describes as a threat emanating from Iran.
Most recently, US President Donald Trump warned Iran in a Tweet that it would be "official end of Iran" if Tehran "wants to fight". Responding to the threats, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif compared Trump with bellicose rulers of the past, such as Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, saying that Iranians "have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone".
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