Iran, Russia review recent development in Syria

April 29, 2017

TEHRAN – Top Iranian and Russian officials met each other on Thursday in Tehran to discuss the latest developments in the region particularly in Syria, which came under an air airstrike by the Israeli regime on the same day.

The meeting was between Alexander Lavrentiev, President Putin’s point man on Syria, and Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

Shamkhani is also senior coordinator for political, military and security affairs with Syria and Russia.
The two discussed the latest developments regarding the conflict in Syria and stressed the importance of further political and field coordination in the Arab country.

The meeting happened right on the same day as a warehouses near Damascus airport that the Israeli news media claimed housed weapons bound for the Lebanese Hezbollah were bombarded by Israel’s precision guided missiles.
Both Russia and Iran, which back the Syrian government, strongly condemned the airstrike.

Tehran, Moscow and Damascus have been in close contact over their joint activities in regard to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
On Wednesday night, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan sat down for talks with his Russian and Syrian counterparts, Sergei Shoigu and Fahd Jassem al-Freij, in Moscow.
During the meeting with Lavrentiev, Shamkhani said while the Islamic Republic will spare no effort in its fight against terrorism in Syria. However Shamkhani said Tehran was committed to exploring a political solution to the conflict in the Arab country.
“We deem the military approach as effective only against those groups that refuse to lay down arms,” he said.
A nation-wide ceasefire deal has been in place in Syria since late last year. The deal, facilitated by Iran, Russia, and Turkey, excludes internationally-designated terrorist groups and other armed outfits that refuse to engage in a reconciliation process with the government.
Iran, Russia, and Turkey, which together act as the guarantor states for the Syrian ceasefire, have also been organizing political talks between the Syrian conflicting sides in a peace process in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Turkey is a defender of the opposition groups in the talks.

Referring to those negotiations, Shamkhani said the armed opposition in Syria — which is a party to the Astana talks — should not be allowed to shrink from participating in the talks by inventing pretexts or as a result of incitement by certain countries opposed to peace.
The Iranian official also censured a recent U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airfield and said the case of that violation of Syrian territory must be duly pursued.
The U.S. fired a salvo of missiles at the Shayrat air base in Syria’s Homs Province in the early morning of April 7, alleging that the base had been used to launch what it said was a chemical raid on a militant-held town that killed over 70 people days earlier. Damascus, which has turned over its stockpile of chemical weapons under a deal between Russia and the U.S., denied having carried out such an attack, saying that a conventional airstrike had hit a chemical arms depot run by the militants, causing the leak of the chemical agents and the deaths.
Shamkhani said the U.S. missile attack dimmed the prospect of reconciliation between Syrian sides and worked to encourage the terrorist groups in Syria.
He said an independent fact-finding mission had to be established to detect the paths through which chemical arms are delivered to the militants in Syria and in Iraq.
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said European countries, too, had to be concerned about the ongoing terrorism in Syria because, “like a dangerous virus, terrorism passes through borders and can’t be used instrumentally.”
Lavrentiev commended Iran’s “constructive” role in the peace process for Syria. He also stressed Moscow’s commitment to fight those groups that shun the political process and continue to engage in armed activities.
He said Russia would however continue to work on the political channels on a parallel basis.
Lavrentiev also met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi-Ansari later in the day.
Jaberi-Ansari and Lavrentiev head the Iranian and Russian delegations at the Astana talks.

AK/PA

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