Syria FM: Iran has no combat forces, bases in the country

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s foreign minister said Saturday Iranian military advisers are embedded with Syrian troops but Tehran has no combat forces or fixed bases in the country.

Walid al-Moallem’s comments came amid rising tension in the region as Israel has repeatedly warned against any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. Al-Moallem said Israel is making false claims to try and pressure Iran, its archrival.

In May, Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes in response to what it said was an Iranian rocket attack on its positions in the occupied Golan Heights. It was the most serious confrontation between Israel and Iran to date.

Scores of Iranian soldiers have been killed in battles with insurgents in Syria, including a number of officers.

“There are Iranian advisers in Syria some of whom were martyred while working with the Syrian Arab army and their presence is part of an agreement and in co-ordination with the armed forces on where they should be,” al-Moallem said. “There are no fixed military bases for the Islamic Republic of Iran and what Israel is circulating are lies.”

“When the conspiracy against Syria began in 2011 our brothers in the Islamic Republic of Iran came to help Syria in fighting terrorism,” al-Moallem said adding that the Syrian people are “grateful” for this help from Iran.

“As long as there is war on terrorism, Syria as a sovereign state will co-operate with whoever it wants in fighting terrorism,” he said.

Al-Moallem denied reports that an agreement was reached between regional and other powers over the situation of southwestern Syria where the country’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are located.

On Friday, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzia said he heard from the news that an agreement was reached on “certain disengagement in the southwest of Syria and, I think, my understanding is that an agreement has been reached.”

However, asked about Nebenzia’s comments al-Moallem said no agreement has been reached for southern Syria, adding that Damascus is not currently involved in any negotiations over the area.

Al-Moallem said that only when U.S. troops withdraw from the Tanf area near the Jordanian border can an agreement be discussed. The U.S. has military advisers based in Tanf.

“The US troops should withdraw from Syria and Syrian sovereignty over the Tanf area is undoubted,” he said.

Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian troops should be positioned on the border with the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war. The area between the southern province of Daraa and the Golan Heights has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between Israel and Iran, and the United States has warned it will take action to protect a cease-fire there.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported on Thursday that Iranian troops and members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group are getting ready to withdraw from southern Syria.

A Syria-based official with the Iran-led axis of resistance denied the report.

Al-Moallem reiterated the government’s position that it aims to regain control of the whole country.

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Trudeau fields questions at town hall meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que.

SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. — Ottawa’s decision to sign the UN compact for migration… Continue reading

Americans face deadline to file paperwork for Huawei executive’s extradition

OTTAWA — American authorities are facing a key deadline at the end… Continue reading

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read