Iran Stresses Syria Presence Legitimate: "No One Will Take Us Out"
May 23 2018
Syrian state media denied a deal was reached to evacuate the militants. Two hours later, the TV said troops captured IS' former stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad and broadcast images showing troops waving the Syrian national flag in the heavily destroyed neighbourhood.
Gen. Ali Mayhoub, a Syrian army spokesman, declared Damascus and its surroundings "completely secure" on Monday.
A temporary humanitarian ceasefire had been in place since Sunday night in Al-Hajar al-Aswad to allow women, children and old people to leave the area, state media said early on Monday.
Tension has been running high along the Syrian border amid Israeli accusations the Iran and Shia Hezbollah group have been building up a military presence in war-torn Syria.
No doubt the two leaders, both long branded worldwide pariahs by the West, had a lot to discuss after the uptick of external military action in Syria, but likely looming larger was the Iran and Israel question, and Israel's continued threats of attack should its "Iranian red line" go unenforced. The spring saw thousands of rebel fighters surrender and board crammed buses out of eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, following weeks of bombardment. The government troops on April 19 began its military operation to take back the district, along with the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp which were occupied by extremists, using airstrikes and intensive cannon and rocket strikes.
Iran and Russian Federation have joined forces in Syria, providing crucial military support to Assad's forces and giving them the upper hand in the civil war.
In comments published Friday, Russian presidential envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev confirmed that President Vladimir Putin's remarks on the need to withdraw foreign troops from Syria had implied Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Turkish and American troops.
While underlining that the Syrian government has approved Iran's military presence on its territory, Ghasemi said that "those who came to Syria without permission from the Syrian government and violated its territorial integrity should leave".
Spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry Bahram Qassemi said that the Islamic republic will remain in Syria so long as the Syrian government requires aid.