Get your militia out of southern Syria, Russia’s Lavrov tells Iran

A tank with the Hezbollah banner operating in Syria (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018

Get your militia out of southern Syria, Russia’s Lavrov tells Iran

  • Israel and Jordan have repeatedly insisted that the Shiite militias that backed President Bashar Assad in the war, should not be allowed near their borders. 
  • The US has voiced concern about reports of an impending Syrian offensive in the south, warning Damascus it would respond to breaches.

LONDON: Iran came under pressure from both alies and enemies on Tuesday as Russia, Israel and Jordan all insisted there was no place for Tehran-funded militias on Syria’s southern border.

Israel and Jordan have repeatedly insisted that the Shiite militias that backed President Bashar Assad in the war, should not be allowed near their borders. 

A cease-fire brokered last year by the US, Russia and Jordan, reduced fighting in south-west Syria, where rebel fighters still control territory.

With Assad’s forces now in their strongest military position since the war began seven years ago, there are fears he may launch a fresh offensive to seize the area. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said on Monday only Syrian army troops should be on the country’s southern border.

“Of course, the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces must be carried out on a mutual basis. This should be a two-way street,” Lavrov said.

“The result of this work, which should continue and is continuing should be a situation when representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic’s army stand at Syria’s border with Israel.”

Russia has also backed Assad in the conflict, with its air power regarded as one of the key turning points in the regime’s favor. 

But Moscow was also instrumental in the de-escalation deals that reduced fighting in certain parts of the country last year. 

The US has voiced concern about reports of an impending Syrian offensive in the south, warning Damascus it would respond to breaches.

Jordan said on Monday it was discussing south Syria with Washington and Moscow, and all three agreed on the need to preserve the cease-fire there.

“The de-escalation zone has produced the cease-fire that has held best in all of Syria. The parties to the agreement are all committed to preserving it,” a Jordanian official told Reuters.

Both Israel and Jordan have been seeking understandings with Moscow to push the  Shiite militias away from the area.

Israel has stepped up its military strikes on suspected Iranian targets across Syria in recent weeks.

Israel called for Tehran to be denied any military presence in Syria.

“We believe that there is no place for any Iranian military presence, anywhere in Syria.” 


Oman’s ruler back home after medical checkup in Belgium

Updated 50 min 1 sec ago

Oman’s ruler back home after medical checkup in Belgium

  • Sultan Qaboos has ruled Oman since he succeeded his father in 1970
  • The sultan has no known successor for his throne in Oman

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Oman’s 79-year-old ruler has returned to his sultanate after traveling to Belgium for a medical checkup, the sultanate’s state-run news agency reported Friday.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said left “for some medical checks that will take a limited period, God willing,” the Oman News Agency reported a week earlier, citing a royal court statement. A similar royal statement announced his return, without elaborating.

Bin Said has taken medical trips abroad in the past. The sultan has ruled Oman since he succeeded his father in 1970. He has no known successor for his throne in Oman, a country on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula that’s home to some 4.6 million people.