"Terrorists must not feel safe in this country or any other part of the world and their supporters should not assume that they can play the terrorism card to their benefit in domestic, regional, or international equations,” the Iranian president said.
Rouhani made the remarks at a tripartite meeting, which was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Russia’s resort city of Sochi on Thursday, Press TV reported.
Unfortunately, the US administration is still backing the terrorists based in Iraq and Syria and uses them to further its own interests as it presses ahead with its “illegal activities” in Syrian territory, Rouhani added.
He said “reliable reports” show that the US has assisted the terrorists enlisted with the Takfiri group of Daesh in traveling around in Syria and also helped some of them leave the country for Afghanistan.
Rouhani said the US has established a military presence in Syria without any Damascus permission, breaching all international regulations as well as the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of an independent country, which is a member of the United Nations.
Pointing to an earlier announcement by the US that it would pull its forces out of Syria, Rouhani said Washington has to act on the claim as soon as possible so the Syrian government’s sovereignty is restored, as is the case elsewhere in the country, to the areas lying to the east and north of the Euphrates River.
The Iranian chief executive asserted that intra-Syrian dialogue needed to continue without any foreign interference, and Syria’s “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and [the principle of] non-interference in the country’s domestic affairs should be observed under any circumstances.”
The Iranian president, meanwhile, stressed that the international community also had to confront the Israeli regime’s arbitrary measures targeting Syria. The regime is also providing assistance to some terror outfits in Syria, he said, adding that Israeli officials themselves had recently owned up to the “heinous act.”
The Sochi summit, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was aimed at solidifying the three countries’ cooperation towards returning peace and stability to Syria.
Over the past years, Iran and Russia have been respectively lending military advisory support and aerial backup for the Syrian military in its battle against militants and Takfiri terrorists. The foreign-backed groups started a campaign of bloodshed and destruction against the Arab country in 2011.
The three countries, known as the guarantor states of a ceasefire regime in Syria, have been mediating peace negotiations between representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups in a series of talks held in the Kazakh capital of Astana and other places since January 2017.
Stability in Syria
For his part, Russian President Putin said that the trio was investing coordinated efforts to ensure that stability prevailed in Syria again and to help the Syrians with the reconstruction process. He reminded that tens of thousands of displaced Syrians had returned to their homeland over the past six months.
Putin called on the international community, most importantly the UN and its agencies, to play a more effective role in providing support to all Syrians without preconditions.
“The cessation of hostilities’ regime is being followed all over Syria, and consequently, escalation has been reduced, which is a positive result of the joint work of the three states,” he said.
“We need to guarantee long-term de-escalation in Idlib after we have succeeded in establishing the cessation of hostilities regime in the province,” Putin said.
The northwestern province of Idlib contains the largest remaining concentrations of Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country.
“But this does not mean that we remain silent on what the terrorist organizations are doing; that is why I suggest that we consider practical steps that the guarantor states could jointly take to fully get rid of the hotbed of terrorism in Idlib,” he added.
Putin concluded by saying that a UN-backed Constitutional Committee tasked with composing Syria’s inclusive constitution had to start its work “very soon,” noting that remarkable efforts had been made in this regard.
UN lack of action in Syria
Following their tripartite meeting, the three heads of state took part in a joint press conference, answering questions regarding various issues related to the current situation in Syria.
There again, Rouhani referred to the US support for terrorists fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran's president said Washington’s relocating of Daesh terrorists to Afghanistan “can pose threats to the entire Central Asian region and other parts of the world,” adding, “One must not claim to be fighting terrorism, but help them behind the scenes.”
Still addressing the declared plan of the US withdrawal from Syria, Rouhani said “based on our intelligence we know that they will continue to meddle in Syria.”
Rouhani once again touched on the issue of Israel’s acts of aggression against the Syrian territory, criticizing the UN and other global bodies for their silence on the incursions.
“Israelis bomb anywhere in the region and fly over the Lebanese and Syrian soil whenever they wish, and unfortunately, the United Nations and global authorities are silent about these continued acts of aggression in Syria,” Iran's president said, adding, “This silence means that they do not want full security in the region and Syria.”
“In this summit, we stressed the importance of combating terrorism in the remaining areas, including Idlib, and it was completely agreed by all that reducing tensions and the presence of guarantors in this region is temporary,” he concluded.
No signs US withdrawal
Putin, for his part, told the press conference that there has been no objective evidence to prove that the US pullout is actually happening.
According to Reuters, he said US President Donald Trump was trying to fulfill his election campaign promises by ordering Syria troop withdrawal, but that he was not always able to live up to his promises, because of “internal political issues.”
The Russian head of state noted that such withdrawal would lead to stability and the restoration of Syria’s authority over its territories.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin stressed that aggressive measures taken by militants in Idlib would not go unpunished.
Putin added that a de-escalation zone planned for Idlib was only a temporary measure and was not meant to substitute the process of combating terrorism.
The Russian president also stated that although the guarantors had agreed to take extra steps to clear Idlib of terrorists, there would be no military operations there.
Iran, Russia, Turkey presidents adopt joint statement
At the end of the Sochi meeting on Syria, presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement, stressing strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
The three presidents highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them.
They also rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against any effort aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.
They added that the US decision for the withdrawal of its forces from Syria, if implemented, would help strengthen stability and security in the country in compliance with the above-mentioned principles.
The presidents of Iran, Syria and Russia also denounced and expressed serious concern about the efforts by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists to increase their control over the Idlib de-escalation area, and agreed to effectively counter such attempts.
Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterated that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
They also highlighted the importance of creating conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally-displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria.
The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey also decided to hold their next tripartite summit in Turkey upon the invitation of President Erdogan.