Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian claimed Iran acted in a decisive and clear way against the US in Syria after recent tensions grew between US forces and pro-Iranian militias in eastern Syria in March. The Iranian diplomat arrived in Moscow late Tuesday for meetings with Russian counterparts.
According to Iranian reports, he said "regarding the events and conflicts that occurred in the east of the Euphrates: Our answer to the American side was decisive and clear."
The Iranian top diplomat met Russia’s Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday. They held discussions about the Caucasus where tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have grown. Iran is considered to be concerned about Baku’s actions.
Iran’s top diplomat also discussed the new ties that Iran is forming with Saudi Arabia and how Iran now wants good relations with countries in the region. “The return of normal relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is considered an important step,” the Iranian said.
Comments about Syria
Of more importance were the Iranian comments about Syria. The diplomat said that the US has made baseless claims in Syria regarding Iran’s role in targeting US bases. Iran operates in Syria and backs militias there. In the last two years, pro-Iran groups have carried out 80 attacks on US forces.
The US operates in Syria to back the Syrian Defense Force against ISIS. The US has only several hundred troops in Syria but some are located near the Euphrates river at facilities called Conoco and Omar Field.
Iran’s militias frequently target these locations with rockets and drones. Recently a US contractor was killed and US personnel were wounded, leading to two waves of US airstrikes against the pro-Iran militias. The US has blamed Iran for being linked to these tensions.
The White House has warned Iran that it will act forcefully against these attacks. Meanwhile, Iran and Syria have condemned the US airstrikes. Iran and Syria see the US as illegally operating in Syria.
Iran is also an increasing partner of Russia and China. “We are not looking for conflict and tension. Iran has always played a constructive and positive role in helping peace in the region. Regarding the events in the east of the Euphrates, our answer to the American side was decisive and clear,” said Abdollahian.
Iran’s decision to mention the US while in Russia was clearly intended to show that Iran is willing to respond to US actions in Syria, even if it is Iran that has provoked those responses. Iran wants Russia’s support on these issues as well. Russia has been hosting Iran, Syrian and Turkish diplomats in the hopes of strengthening the Syrian regime. Russia, Iran, Syria and Turkey also all want the US to leave eastern Syria.