After meeting with Assad last week in Sochi, Putin was quoted saying “(w)e affirm that with the achievement of the big victories and the remarkable successes by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism and with the activation of the political process, it is necessary for all foreign forces to withdraw from the Syrian Arab Republic territories.”
It was unclear if he meant illegal US and Turkish invaders. Hezbollah fighters and Iranian military advisors, along with Russian military personnel, are in Syria at the behest of Damascus – combatting US-supported ISIS and other terrorists.
They operate legally. Conflict continues raging, resolution nowhere in sight – despite important gains by Syrian forces, greatly aided by Russian airpower.
Putin’s envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev clarified his comment, saying he means “all foreign troops in Syria, including…Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah,” adding:
Putin made a “political statement,” rather than signaling the beginning of a withdrawal process – wanting it initiated after the scourge of terrorism is defeated and diplomatic conflict resolution success.
No significant Geneva, Astana or Sochi diplomatic breakthroughs were achieved, Washington uninvolved in these talks except in an observer capacity.
On Wednesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said withdrawal of Hezbollah forces and Iranian military advisors “is not…on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria,” adding:
“We cannot let anyone even raise this issue. 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.”
The Trump administration wants greater involvement of Saudi, UAE and other Arab countries in pursuing regime change in Syria. Mikdad called what’s going on “a dangerous situation,” a US attempt to escalate conflict, not resolve it.
According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi, “(a)s long as terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants, Iran(ian)” military advisors, they’ll remain in the country. “Those who have entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian government should leave.”
Separately, according to Israeli military-connected DEBKAfile (DF), Syrian troops, “backed by Hizbollah and Iranian commanders,” are mobilizing for an offensive to break “through to the Jordanian border…pos(ing) a threat” to Israel and US forces.
AMN News explained what’s going on as follows:
Thousands of Syrian forces are preparing to launch an offensive in the Daraa Governorate (where US-orchestrated aggression first began in March 2011) – no Hezbollah forces or Iranian military advisors involved.
Syria’s objective is to free territory held by US-supported terrorists, vital to achieve, another step toward liberating the country entirely from their scourge.
US/Israeli concern is over the success of Syrian and allied forces, along with Russian airpower.
Large numbers of US-supported terrorists remain to be eliminated. Turkish forces control parts of northern Syria.
According to Assad’s UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari, US troops illegally control about 30% of northern and southern Syrian territory – liberating the country unattainable as long as they and Turkish forces remain.
A Final Comment
Pro-Western UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres disgracefully called on Lebanon’s government “to take all measures necessary to prohibit Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capacity,” adding:
“(I)t remains a fundamental anomaly that a political party maintains a militia that has no accountability to the democratic, governmental institutions of the state but has the power to take that state to war” – a gross distortion of reality.
Hezbollah and its allies won a 67-seat majority in Lebanon’s May 6 general election. Its military wing threatens no one. It’s for self-defense against possible Israeli aggression.
At the behest of Damascus, its fighters are helping Syrian forces combat US-supported terrorists in the country – a noble effort warranting praise, not uncalled for criticism by anyone.