News ID: 215593
Published: 0220 GMT May 23, 2018

Syria: Pullout of Iran advisors, Hezbollah forces not on agenda

Syria: Pullout of Iran advisors, Hezbollah forces not on agenda

Syria on Wednesday dismissed the US calls for the withdrawal of Iranian military advisors and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters from the war-torn country.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said that “this topic is not even on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a list of demands this week for a new nuclear deal with Iran, including the pullout of its advisors from Syria, where they have provided crucial support to the Syrian government. Russia is also a key ally of Assad and has been waging an air campaign in Syria since 2015.

Mikdad said in Wednesday’s remarks that Syria “highly appreciates” Russia’s military support as well as advisers from Iran and Hezbollah. He added that “we cannot let anyone even raise this issue” of the Iranian withdrawal.

“Those who ask for something like that – and this is definitely not our Russian friends – are considering the possibility of intervention in all parts of Syria, including the support of terrorists in Syria and elsewhere in the region,” Mikdad said.

The statements by the US about its intention to withdraw troops from Syria and replace them with Arab forces are aimed at drawing the Arab countries in direct conflict with Damascus, Mikdad added.

"The main goal of such statements is to pump the money out of the Arab countries. This will force them to pay more to the US Treasury, which may be empty. As well as drawing the Arab states in direct conflict, as far as I can guess – with the Syrian government, and this is a dangerous situation," Mikdad said.

Mikdad also denounced the US presence in his country, saying that the international coalition led by the US has deliberately bombed oil wells in Syria, so that the government would not be able to use them.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in the Arab republic since 2014 without either a UN mandate or the Syrian government's consent.

He said that the US continues its support for terrorists in Syria by financing and supplying them with arms.

"I believe that the oxygen for terrorist groups comes from the United States," Mikdad said.

The Syrian minister noted that Damascus had heard "many times since the start of the crisis in 2011" the US statements on the reduction or termination of its support to the opposition in Syria.

"Meanwhile, [militant] groups are being provided with additional funding and arms," Mikdad stressed.

According to the minister, after the liberation of Eastern Ghouta and the town of Hajar al-Aswad from terrorists, the Syrian Army discovered large stocks of arms, recently delivered from Western countries and the United States.

"The United States must stop supporting terrorists and respect Syria's sovereignty and choice of the Syrian people," the diplomat underlined.


Constitutional Commission


Syrian authorities have not finalized a list of candidates for participation in the committee on Syria's Constitution in Geneva, however there are a lot of specialists and experts, who could represent Damascus in the body, Mikdad stated.

Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad. The Russian leader said that Moscow welcomed and would support the decision of Assad to send his representatives to the Constitutional Commission in Geneva.

In Moscow, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian military’s General Staff, pointed at the Syrian troops’ recent gains, saying Wednesday that “all the necessary conditions have been created for the revival of Syria as a single, unified state.”

He noted the government’s capture of the last remaining terrorist enclave in southern Damascus from Daesh group, which brought the entire capital and its far-flung suburbs under full government control for the first time since the war began in 2011.

The general also said Russia, Iran and Turkey set up nearly 30 checkpoints to monitor the de-escalation zone in the northern province of Idlib as part of a deal the three countries brokered.


AP and Sputnik contributed to this story.


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