Presence of Iranian military advisors in Syria legitimate: Muallem
Iran Press TV
Sat Jun 2, 2018 12:59PM
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says Iran has no military presence or bases in his country but Iranian military advisors are there to help Damascus fight terrorist groups.
"[There is] no Iranian military presence on the Syrian territories; rather there are advisors who work by the side of the Syrian Arab Army," Muallem said during a press briefing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Saturday.
Muallem said the presence of Iranian military advisors in Syria was legitimate and based on an invitation by the Syrian government and they coordinated their activities with Damascus.
The Syrian foreign minister further thanked Iran for helping Syria in the ongoing war against foreign-backed militant groups.
"Since the beginning of the crisis, Iran has supported Syria in the war against terrorism backed and financed regionally and internationally," he said.
The top Syrian diplomat further rejected Israeli claims that Iran had military bases in the Arab country, saying that the Tel Aviv regime made such propaganda in an effort to try and pressure Iran.
He went on to say that Syria was a sovereign state and it would cooperate with whoever it wished to counter terrorism.
Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror groups.
Israel has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria in what is widely viewed as an attempt to prop up the terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats at the hands of Syrian soldiers.
There has been a hike in Israeli strikes since the collapse late last year of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, something that significantly demoralized other militant groups operating against Damascus.
On April 9, an Israeli airstrike against the T-4 airbase in Syria's Homs province killed more than a dozen people, including seven Iranian military advisors.
Iran has pledged that it would punish Israel for the deadly air raid.
Israel has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to Takfiri elements wounded in Syria.
In the course of their recent advances in terrorist-held areas, Syrian government forces have discovered considerable amounts of Israeli-made munitions, including chemical warfare, digital equipment and drugs.
Damascus has repeatedly written to the UN in condemnation of Israeli acts of aggression, calling on the world body and its Security Council to take firm measures against the regime.
US forces must leave Syria
Muallem also said that the presence of US forces in Syria was illegitimate and they must withdraw from the Syrian territory, including Tanf area in the south.
He also said that Damascus had not engaged in talks over the country's southern region.
"Do not believe any statements on an agreement about the south of Syria unless the US forces withdraw from al-Tanf area," he said.
The Syrian foreign minister further said that the government had communicated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but no negotiation process had started.
He said the northern city of Raqqah, which is under the control of SDF forces, "must be rebuilt and liberated" from any foreign presence.
In an interview with Russia's RT television network on Thursday, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said the United States "is losing its cards" as the militant groups it supports have lost significant ground on the battlefield against the army, emphasizing that the Americans "should leave" Syrian soil.
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