Iran, Syria deny existence of Iranian military presence in country


Israel has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria or the transfer of advanced weaponry to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

While US President Donald Trump has floated the idea of withdrawing American troops from Syria, multiple officials from the Pentagon and the State Department have said the US troops are going nowhere, and that territories liberated from IS by SDF will not be returned to the Syrian government unless Assad leaves power.

Al-Muallem said that the Syrian regime has communicated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is backed by the United States, but negotiations have not started as yet.

In an interview with Russia's RT global broadcaster, Assad said he would negotiate with fighters backed on the ground by Washington, but would reclaim territory they control by force if necessary, whether or not American troops supported them.

On top of the direct move to get Iran off the border, Russian Federation is also promising to issue a statement criticizing Iran for fueling tensions with Israel, and will push Syria not to too closely back Iran in this ongoing rivalry.

Assad added that "the Americans should leave".

Long-simmering tensions between Israel and Iran in Syria stepped up considerably in recent months, beginning in February when an Iranian drone carrying explosives was flown from the T-4 air base in central Syria into Israeli airspace, and was shot down by an IAF helicopter.

Gaza militants launch barrages across border, Israel hits back with air strikes
But after Tuesday's flareup, followed by sirens and explosions into the night, there were Palestinian claims of a ceasefire. The boat carried activists, students and patients in need of medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

He said: "We're going to liberate every area".

After regaining control of Syria's two largest cities - Aleppo and Damascus - Assad this spring set his sights on areas in the country that remain outside his control and in rebel hands.

Assad in the RT interview also sought to minimize the extent of Iran's presence in Syria.

Russian Federation has offered Israel a "green light" to carry out military operations against Iranian forces in Syria so long as troops loyal to Moscow's ally, the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, are not targeted, a leading Saudi newspaper reported on Friday.

Russian Federation has previously granted Israel freedom to carry out air strikes in Syria, although recently Moscow has expressed public disquiet about strikes in which Syrian regime and allied troops were killed.

But Assad said Iran's presence in Syria has been limited to officers assisting the army.