A man carries a giant flag made of flags of Iran, Palestine, Syria and Hezbollah, during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Feburary 2016.
(photo credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/REUTERS)
A senior Iranian general has denied reports that Iranian forces will withdraw from Syria, saying that they, unlike the United States, were in the war-torn country at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Unlike the American military forces and the regional reactionaries, the Iranian advisers are present in Syria at the request of the Syrian government and people,” Brig.-Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, an adviser to Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Sunday.
“Iran and Syria enjoy deep relations that would not be influenced by anyone’s propaganda measures,” Jazayeri said.
According to Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, “the Zionist regime’s greatest fear is the proximity of Muslim fighters near its border; it has come to pass.”
“Now that this has come true, the US and Israel are making desperate efforts to change the situation. “But they should know that this condition is not going to change,” he emphasized. “We are waiting to see a day that Syria and the other regional countries will witness an era without the annoying and troublemaking aliens.”
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry from Tehran to Hezbollah in Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.
Reports in recent days have claimed that Israel and Russia have agreed to remove Iranian and Hezbollah troops as well as Shiite militias from southern Syria. On Thursday the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Iranian forces were preparing to withdraw from southern Syria, away from the Israeli border.
Russia says only Syrian army should be on country's southern border, May 28, 2018 (Reuters)
Yet another unconfirmed report in the Syrian opposition newspaper Zaman al-Wasl claimed that the commander of the Syrian Air Force has decided that Damascus will no longer allow Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias to use its bases to store ammunition and host fighters. According to the report, the Assad regime has been in a “panic following recent Israeli attacks.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with his Russian counterpart Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last week where the two discussed the Iranian presence in Syria.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets his Russian counterpart in Moscow, May 31, 2018. (Dawn Levy/Defense Ministry)
Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.
“The State of Israel appreciates Russia’s understanding of our security concerns, particularly regarding the situation at our northern border,” Lieberman wrote on Twitter after the meeting, adding that “we’ll continue our dialogue with Russia on every matter at hand.”
Syria says Iran has no troops or fixed military bases in Syria, June 3, 2018 (Reuters)
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Saturday that Iran has no military presence or bases in his country but that Iranian military advisers are there to help Damascus.
“[There is] no Iranian military presence on the Syrian territories; rather there are advisers who work by the side of the Syrian Arab Army,” Muallem said during a press briefing in Damascus. “Since the beginning of the crisis, Iran has supported Syria in the war against terrorism, backed and financed regionally and internationally.”
In an interview with Russia’s RT news agency last week Assad denied that there were any Iranian troops in the country, saying that “We have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian army.”
“We do not have Iranian troops. We never had, and you cannot hide it,” he said, “Like we invited the Russians, we could have invited the Iranians.”