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Bolton said the US would keep a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there.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


Turkey sentences 24 to life in ‘coup ringleaders’ trial

Updated 12 min 30 sec ago
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Turkey sentences 24 to life in ‘coup ringleaders’ trial

  • Of the 24 on trial, 17 received 141 aggravated life terms
  • The trial began in May 2017

SINCAN, Turkey: A Turkish court on Thursday gave life sentences to 24 people in one of the biggest trials over the 2016 failed bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

Of the 24, the judge gave 17 accused 141 aggravated life terms each over the deaths of 139 people, for “violating the constitution” and “attempting to assassinate the president,” state news agency Anadolu reported.

Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions.

Former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of former ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey’s ambassador to the Netherlands, were among the 17.

There was a tense atmosphere minutes before the judge issued his verdicts with dozens of people including relatives of those killed during the coup bid in July 2016, lambasting the court for not allowing them to enter.

Saliha Arigan, whose son was killed on the night of the failed overthrow, pressed herself against the gates, crying and shouting to be allowed inside.

“The state should be ashamed,” she said. Even as the verdicts were handed down, the strained mood continued with further attempts by individuals to enter the courtroom complex by force.

An AFP correspondent was not allowed to enter the courtroom by police.

The trial began in May 2017 in the country’s largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, outside the capital Ankara.

The court also handed down an aggravated life sentence for “violating the constitution” to Col. Ali Yazici, Erdogan’s former military aide, Anadolu reported.

Yazici was sentenced before to 18 years in jail in 2017 after a trial of dozens who plotted to assassinate Erdogan at a luxury Aegean hotel during the coup attempt.

More verdicts are expected from the trial.

Among the total 224 suspects on trial in Sincan over the coup bid was US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch.

Gulen, who strongly denies the claims, is being tried in absentia as Turkey has failed to secure his extradition.

The judge ordered the case of 13 fugitives including Gulen to be separated from the main coup ringleaders’ trial.

The failed overthrow left 248 people dead, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to justice ministry figures given to AFP before the verdicts.