Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to the Iranian television channel Al Alam, in which he stated that Israel would have no influence in southern Syria and that the Iranian armed forces were not present in the country.
After that, he immediately added that he would not hesitate to accept Iran’s military aid and give permission to Iranian bases on his territory if this would be necessary: ”Relations with Iran are strategic, they have nothing to do with the south or the north.” Further, he added that the presence of Iranian forces on the border with Israel is quite possible in the future.
This “secret of Polishinel” — known to everyone, has been subject of negotiations between Israel and Russia for long. The presence of Iranian military bases, units of the Iranian army and advisers in Syria has been long troubling Israel. On May 31, the withdrawal of the Iranian military and Hezbollah from southern Syria was discussed in Moscow by the Israeli Defense Minister and Russian Defense Minister Shoygu.
Naturally, in an interview with the Iranian channel, Assad could not help but touch Israel and the United States, as well as their role in the Syrian conflict. The Syrian president stated that his peace in the country was not achieved solely through the fault of these countries, who support the “terrorists” in order to hinder the settlement at any cost.
At the end of the interview, Assad said that cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah has a long-term character.
Israel has always stressed that it would not allow military facilities of Iran and Hezbollah at its borders and gives itself the full right to fight them by any means. Only in the last month, several Iranian military bases were destroyed by Israeli aircraft. Despite the progress in the negotiations with Russia and the promise to facilitate the withdrawal of the Iranian military from the southern provinces, sources say that Iranian forces are returning to the provinces of Daraa and Cuneitra, disguised as a Syrian army uniform.
The Russian ambassador to Lebanon also said that Russia can not stop cooperating with Hezbollah and the Iranian military in Syria, as this will lead to the strengthening of terrorists. Among the main problems in Syria, he called the presence of the US military.
Russia does not fight Hezbollah in the border areas of Syria.
On Thursday, the London-based “Syrian Human Rights Observatory” reported that Hezbollah refused to comply with the “demand of Russia” and leave the border areas of Homs province in southwestern Syria, located next to the borders of Lebanon and Israel.
The day before, Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Zasypkin said in an interview with the Lebanese radio station Al Nur that Russia is friend with Hezbollah and does not at all require the withdrawal of its forces from Syria. According to the Russian diplomat, “under these circumstances” it is impossible to demand the withdrawal of Hezbollah and Iranian forces from Syria, since this would “play into the hands of terrorists”, and “the elimination of terrorism in Syria is not yet complete.”
Zasypkin assured the Arabic-speaking audience that relations between Russia and the forces of the “axis of resistance” in Syria are relations of “close cooperation and cooperation”.
According to the “Syrian Human Rights Observatory”, in the south-western regions of the province of Homs are Russian troops, but they do not approach the outposts of Hezbollah, and “there were no clashes between these forces.”
As Ynet writes, the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian forces in south-western Syria causes “tension” in relations between Russia and Iran. During the visit of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Moscow, the Israeli media reported that Russia promised Israel the withdrawal of Shiite forces from the border areas, and Israel agreed on these conditions not to prevent the return of Assad forces to these areas.
The existence of agreements with Israel was publicly announced by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vasily Nebenzia, after which the “official source” in Tel-Aviv came out with a refutation. The existence of agreements between Russia and Israel on Syria is categorically denied by Bashar Assad.
According to Al Sharq al-Awsat, the United States objected to the transfer of strategic areas in south-western Syria to Assad’s control.