‘Get out of Syria,’ Tehran tells US

US armoured vehicles patrolling in the countryside of the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2019
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‘Get out of Syria,’ Tehran tells US

  • “Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

GENEVA: Senior Iranian figures said on Wednesday that Syria was a top foreign policy priority and American troops should withdraw, as planned by US President Donald Trump.

“Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was reported as saying.

There are fears in the West that Trump’s plan to extricate about 2,000 soldiers from Syria will cede influence to Tehran, which has backed Bashar Assad in the nearly eight-year war, and also allow Daesh militants to regroup.

“Now 90 percent of Syrian soil is under the control of the government and the rest will soon be freed by the Syrian army,” Velayati added during a meeting with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem in Tehran, according to the Tasnim news agency.

President Hassan Rouhani told Moualem that peace in Syria was a priority. “One of the important regional and foreign policy goals of the Islamic republic is the stability and complete security of Syria,” Tasnim quoted him as saying.

“And establishing normal conditions in Syria and the return of the people of this country to their normal lives.” Moualem was in Tehran for talks before the meeting of leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort town Sochi on Feb. 14 over Syria.

Separately, Rear Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, a deputy commander of the regular armed forces, said Iran plans to extend the range of its land-to-sea missiles beyond 300 km.

Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles, in defiance of opposition from the US and expressions of concern by European countries.

Tehran says the program is purely defensive.

The EU said on Monday it was gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile launches and tests, and urged it to stop activity that deepens mistrust and destabilizes the region.


US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria. (US Army photo)
Updated 22 February 2019
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US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

  • The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.
But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.