US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil — Bolton

John Bolton warned against Iran's role in other Middle East countries. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil — Bolton

  • John Bolton says Iran 'responsible for attacks in Syria, Lebanon and responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft,"
  • Israel has carried out strikes against many sites in Syria linked to Iranian militias

NEW YORK: US troops would not leave Syria as long as Iranian forces its proxies were operting in foreign countries, one of Donald Trump's closest advisors warned on Monday.

The warning from US National Security adviser John Bolton was a clear statement of the White Houses intent to curtail Tehran's influence in Syria and other countries in the region.

Iran was responsible for attacks in Syria, and Lebanon and was responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft last week, Bolton said.

Bolton said the US would keep a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there.

"We're not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias," he said.

Both Israel ths US and neighboring Arab countries have all expressed their deep concern about Iran's powerful presence in Syria and how long it plans to stay.

Israel has carried out strikes against many sites in Syria linked to Iranian militias. Last week, it was during an Israeli air raid that Syrian air defenses shot down an aircraft belonging to the Russian military, which is a key supporter of President Bashar Al-Assad. 

Bolton on Monday warned Russia that its decision to respond by supplying Syria with an advanced missile defense system would be a "major mistake" and should be reconsidered, AP reported.
"We have American forces in the area we're concerned about," Bolton said. "The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we're all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities."
Shortly before the downing, Israeli strikes had hit targets inside Syria, reportedly preventing an arms shipment to the Iranian-backed militant Hezbollah group.

Bolton's warning on Iran came as France warned Monday that the Middle East risked “perpetual war” unless a peace agreement can be reached in Syria.

Syrian President “Bashar Assad but also those who support him have a responsiblity to work for a political solution,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters at the United Nations.
“If not, we risk heading toward a sort of perpetual war in the area,” he said.

Meanwhile, France has called for stronger international sanctions on Libyans who stand in the way of a political solution in the conflict-ridden country.
The current situation "forces us to show greater firmness toward those who want to insist on the status quo for their sole benefit," Le Drian said, urging sanctions against the "militia members who threaten Tripoli."


Yemen’s Hodeidah calm after cease-fire takes effect

Updated 18 December 2018
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Yemen’s Hodeidah calm after cease-fire takes effect

  • Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeida was calm on Tuesday after the UN-brokered cease-fire started at midnight
  • An agreement reached after talks in Sweden last week calls for the withdrawal of both sides’ forces from Hodeidah

Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeida was calm on Tuesday after the UN-brokered cease-fire started at midnight, pro-government sources and residents said.
“There has been complete calm since 03:00 am Yemen time (1200 GMT) in the city of Hodeida,” a military source loyal to the government told AFP on Tuesday.
The cease-fire agreement struck at the UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden came into effect at midnight Monday.
Residents said that daily fighting would usually be fierce in the evening and at night, before coming to a standstill at dawn.
The two warring sides have however welcomed the truce in the strategic Red Sea province.

The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government against Iran-backed Houthi militias “has no intention of violating the agreement ... unless the Houthis violate and dishonor it,” a coalition official said.
An agreement reached after talks in Sweden last week calls for the withdrawal of both sides’ forces from Hodeidah within 21 days and the deployment of international monitors. The Houthis are due to surrender control of the port by midnight on Dec. 31.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to propose a surveillance team of up to to 40 observers, diplomats said.
Hodeidah residents reported sporadic fighting to the east and south of the city on Monday before the cease-fire took hold, and a government military official said a fire had broken out in a factory in the east of the city after airstrikes on Sunday night.

(With AFP)