Disengagement of forces in southwest Syria to take place shortly, says ambassador

Geneva Stokes
June 2, 2018

Tensions between Washington and Damascus boiled over in April, when US and allied warplanes launched a series of airstrikes against suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

The remarks came after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed on Thursday that Hezbollah and Iranian fighters are preparing to withdraw from southern Syria against the backdrop of regional and global negotiations now underway between the US, Russia, and Jordan over the war-torn country's future.

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.

"This is our land, it's our right, it's our duty to liberate [these areas], and the Americans should leave", Assad told RT.

The threats come amid a scramble among several nations and factions in the Syrian civil war, as the Assad government consolidates control of the major cities but faces pressure over the postwar balance of power. The strikes were in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of the weapons against anti-government forces near the rebel stronghold of Aleppo.

Syria's foreign minister says Iranian military advisers are embedded with Syrian troops but Tehran has no combat forces or fixed bases in the country.

The Kremlin has given Israel a green light to launch attacks in Syria on condition that Syrian President Bashar Assad's assets are not targeted, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Friday, according to Israel Hayom.

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More than 2,000 U.S. troops are now in Syria fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeast as well as in the enclave of At-Tanf in the south along the Jordanian border.

"Russia is somehow embarrassed because talks with the Israelis mainly focus on a plan to remove Iran and its forces from southern Syria", the source added.

Assad told Russian TV Thursday that Syria had no Iranian troops on its soil.

Israel has been pushing Russian Federation on this issue for a while, and had conditioned not interfering in Syria's offensive against rebels in southern Syria on getting Iran, along with Shi'ite militias, out of the border region.

The moves were reportedly tied to a clandestine deal between Moscow and Tel Aviv, allowing Damascus to send government troops to territory in southern Syria.

After the the meeting with Shoigu, Liberman said on his Twitter account that "Israel appreciates Russia's understanding of our security needs and in particular the situation on our northern border".

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