Iran says ‘no third party’ will limit its involvement in Syria

Iran’s defence minister has said his country will continue its support of the Syrian government to ensure improved security in the region, adding that the nature of the two countries’ cooperation won’t be decided by a “third party”.

Israel has expressed concern over Iran’s growing influence in Syria, accusing Iran of seeking to establish a foothold near the frontier with the Jewish state. The United States has been pressing for Iran to withdraw its fighters from Syria. In recent meetings between US and Russian officials, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said he and Russian officials are discussing the issue, without providing details, calling it a US priority.

Iran says its presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Syrian government. “No third party can affect the presence of Iranian advisers in Syria,” Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami told reporters in Damascus.

His comments came at the start of a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials. The high-level military delegation headed by Hatami is expected to boost cooperation between the two countries, and Iranian media reported that the two are expected to sign new military and defense agreements.

Iran has provided key support to Assad in the seven-year civil war, sending thousands of military advisers and allied militiamen to bolster his forces.

Israel has expressed concern over Iran’s growing influence in Syria, accusing Iran of seeking to establish a foothold near the frontier with the Jewish state.

Ayyoub, the Syrian defence minister, said his government is determined to restore government control over Idlib whether through reconciliation deals or with military operations.

A Turkish, Russian and Iranian summit is expected in early September in Tehran to discuss Syria.

Idlib was on top of the agenda during talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday. Turkey has sought to delay any offensive, while Russia has expressed growing impatience, accusing insurgents of targeting its forces from the province.

In Lebanon, leader of the pro-Iran Hezbollah militia Hassan Nasrallah said that over the years his group’s fighters have never needed encouragement to join the battles in Syria because they knew their significance for the security of Lebanon and the region.

Source » ap

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