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

Maghaweir al Thowra conducts a security patrol near At Tanf, Syria. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob Connor)

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.”


© 2018 Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

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