Russia, US and Jordan discuss need to preserve truce in Syria

Geneva Stokes
May 29, 2018

"We believe that there is no room for any Iranian military presence anywhere in Syria", he said.

The Israeli and Russian defence ministers, Avigdor Lieberman and Sergei Shoigu, are due to meet on Thursday.

The United States, Russia, and Jordan agreed past year to include Daraa in a "de-escalation zone" and freeze lines of conflict there.

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Syrian state media has reported leaflet drops on rebel territory there urging fighters to accept government rule, and a UK-based monitor has reported army movements into the south - two signs of a potential military offensive. In this endeavour it has formidable obstacles to overcome: "the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran, which Israel regards as its most implacable state foe; other enemies, particularly Hizbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias, are entrenched in Syria with Russia's blessing; and the USA, notwithstanding the Trump administration's strident rhetoric, has done little to reverse Iran's gains", reads a February report from the International Crisis Group.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian troops should be positioned on the border with the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war. "Russian Federation has given it room to act against Iran-linked military interests and appears to be more interested in balancing contending fighting coalitions than returning every last piece of territory to the Assad regime's control", the report continues. "The Iranians provided assurances that their ‎forces would not operate alongside the Syrian ‎military in the offensive", a senior Jordanian official who took part in the ‎mediation efforts told the Saudi website. Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its advisers are embedded with his troops. One participant in the talks reportedly said that "the sides discussed this issue with the Israelis, and arrived at a quick agreement that even surprised the Israeli representatives".

According to Elaph, Iran may have been willing to negotiate with Israel this weekend as a result of losses Tehran has sustained in recent Israeli attacks in Syria.

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