The withdrawal of Iranian forces and units of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah from Syria is not on the discussion agenda, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told Sputnik.
“This topic is not even on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria. We cannot let anyone even raise this issue. Those who ask for something like that — and this is definitely not our Russian friends — are considering the possibility of intervention in all parts of Syria, including the support of terrorists in Syria and elsewhere in the region,” Mikdad said.
According to the Syrian diplomat, Damascus “highly appreciates” the help of friendly forces from Russia and advisers from Iran and Hezbollah in the struggle against terrorists.
The statements by the United States about its intention to withdraw troops from Syria and replace them with Arab forces are aimed at drawing the Arab countries in direct conflict with Damascus, Mikdad said.
“The main goal of such statements is to pump the money out of the Arab countries. This will force them to pay more to the US treasury, which may be empty. As well as drawing the Arab states in direct conflict, as far as I can guess — with the Syrian government, and this is a dangerous situation,” Mikdad said.
According to Mikdad, Washington will ultimately not withdraw its troops.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo gave a keynote speech on US policy toward Iran, voicing 12 demands for Tehran to fulfill following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has slammed the address made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the world cannot accept that Washington makes unilateral decisions for all nations.
On May 8, Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and Treasury immediately began to reimpose all sanctions against Tehran. The JCPOA — signed by Iran, the P5+1 and the European Union in 2015 — requires that Tehran allow inspections to ensure the peaceful nature of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
US-Led Coalition Deliberately Destroyed Oil Wells in Syria
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in the Arab Republic since 2014 without either a UN mandate or the Syrian government’s consent.
The international coalition led by the United States has deliberately bombed oil wells in Syria, so that the government would not be able to use them, Mikdad said.
“They made it necessary to spend tens of millions of dollars to resume work at these [oil] fields,” Mikdad added.
The US-led coalition, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since 2014 without Damascus’ or UN’s approval, has yet to comment on the statement.
The United States continues its support for terrorists in Syria by financing and supplying them with arms, Faisal Mekdad said.
“I believe that the oxygen for terrorist groups comes from the United States,” Mekdad said.
The Syrian minister noted that Damascus had heard “many times since the start of the crisis in 2011” the US statements on the reduction or termination of its support to the opposition in Syria.
“Meanwhile, [militant] groups are being provided with additional funding and arms,” Mekdad stressed.
According to the minister, after the liberation of Eastern Ghouta and the town of Hajar Aswad from terrorists, the Syrian army discovered large stocks of arms, recently delivered from Western countries and the United States.
“The United States must stop supporting terrorists and respect Syria’s sovereignty and choice of the Syrian people,” the diplomat underlined.
A military-diplomatic source earlier told Sputnik that militants from the Nusra Front terrorist group, banned in Russia, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were expanding the controlled territories in southern Syria to create an autonomy under the patronage of the United States. On April 19, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow also had this information.
The CBS TV channel reported on May 18, citing US President Donald Trump administration officials, that the administration had withdrawn all assistance from northwestern Syria, where anti-Syrian government forces and Turkey are operating. According to the broadcaster, tens of millions of dollars will be cut from previous efforts, backed by the United States, to “strengthen and stabilize the local society.”
Syrian authorities have not finalized a list of candidates for participation in the committee on Syria’s constitution in Geneva, however there are a lot of specialists and experts, who could represent Damascus in the body, Syrian Faisal Mekdad stated.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad. The Russian leader said that Moscow welcomed and would support the decision of Assad to send his representatives to the Constitutional Commission in Geneva.
“It is too early to speak about [candidates], but there are many people, who are able to represent Syria and the Syrian government in these talks. We have many experts… in this sphere, who could participate in these talks,” Mekdad said.
The diplomat added that the constitutional amendments were the Syrian domestic issue and foreigners should not interfere in this process.
“There are several issues that are needed to be revised and we are ready to reconsider them,” the deputy foreign minister said, adding that it was necessary to understand, which “positive options” could be added to the constitution.
The settlement process for the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011, has been discussed on a number of international platforms, such as those in Geneva and Astana and the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Russia’s Sochi. The main result of the Sochi congress was the creation of the Constitutional Commission that would work in Geneva and focus on amending Syria’s existing constitution.