Friday, 17 August, 2018

Assad tells U.S. to leave Syria

A map of Syria shows the various areas under the influence or control of different countries and groups. In northern Syria in Idlib is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Along the Syrian border Turkey and its allies control a corridor stretching to the Euphrates river World War 3: US THREATEN Assad with ARMED FORCE if he tries to remove troops from Syria
Glenn Montgomery | 04 June, 2018, 08:56

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of conflict between his army and US forces in Syria if they do not withdraw from the country soon - prompting a warning from the Pentagon.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that Iranian advisers and Hezbollah fighters will be withdrawing from the southern regions of Daraa and Quneitra near Israel's Golan Heights. Al-Moallem says Israel is making false claims to try and pressure Iran, its archrival. A senior Israeli diplomat warned me this week that no agreement has been made for all of Syria, and that Israel would not be satisfied with a partial agreement to only keep Iranian forces away from its border.

Since March 30, at least 120 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured by the Israeli army's gunfire near the Gaza-Israel border fence.

In an interview with Russia's RT television network on Thursday, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said the United States "is losing its cards" as the militant groups it supports have lost significant ground on the battlefield against the army, emphasizing that the Americans "should leave" Syrian soil.

Mr Assad, who is backed by Russian Federation and Iran, appears militarily unassailable in the war that has killed an estimated half a million people, uprooted around 6 million people in the country, and driven another 5 million overseas as refugees.

Israel has repeatedly vowed to prevent Iran establishing a permanent presence in Syria and Lebanon and has carried out dozens of air strikes against Iran-backed forces and attempts to smuggle advanced weapons to Hezbollah. Those areas include eastern neighbourhoods of the northern city of Aleppo, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour and parts of Idlib and Hama provinces to the west.

There has been no confirmation of a deal between Russia, Israel and Iran however.

"Do not believe any statements on an agreement about the south of Syria unless the U.S. forces withdraw from al-Tanf area", Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said at a press conference, referring to the Southern de-escalation zone covering parts of the Deraa and Quneitra regions.

The Syrian foreign minister also said that the government seeks to resolve all the existing issues, primarily through negotiations and dialog, adding, however, that, should the diplomatic efforts fail, Damascus would likely be forced to use other means.

'"But we all know that a new battle will not do any good for anyone", Kino said on June 1.

Netanyahu's comments followed reports in the past few days that Iran-backed forces were preparing to withdraw from southern Syria.

Since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Jerusalem has also expected Washington to shift its policy on Iranian involvement in Syria from one of tolerating Iran's role there to confronting it.

The Syrian government has not even started any negotiations with the militants in these areas, al-Moallem said, calling the USA troop withdrawal a necessary prerequisite for any such talks. The U.S. has military advisers based in Tanf.

In May, head of the Syrian government delegation to the Astana peace talks Bashar Jaafari called the United States military presence in al-Tanf and nearby Rukban refugee camp in the south of the country as "pure aggression and occupation".

The remarks by al-Moallem came in response to the recent reports of a Russian-backed deal in southern Syria about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from areas close to the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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