Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Israel's Lieberman in Moscow for Syria talks

Damaged buildings are seen at the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus Syria Damaged buildings are seen at the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus Syria
Faye Gross | 31 May, 2018, 19:13

Iran has provided support to the government of president Bashar Al Assad from the beginning of the conflict, while Russia's military directly intervened in Syria in 2015, providing air power and other crucial support to the government's forces.

Assad has recovered swathes of Syrian territory with military backing from Russian Federation and Iran and is now militarily unassailable in the conflict that began in 2011. These include the SDF-held parts of the north and east, and chunks of territory held by rebel forces in the northwest and southwest.

The United States says it is concerned that Assad's government is planning to jettison the truce and launch a major offensive in the area to fulfill Assad's goal of re-asserting control over every inch of his country.

Fighting erupted at the end of April between government forces and SDF fighters in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, formerly held by the Islamic State (IS) group, driven out of the overwhelming majority of the region under the blow of multiple offensives.

There has been a hike in Israeli strikes since the collapse late previous year of the Daesh terror group, something that significantly demoralized the other Takfiri militant groups operating against Damascus.

Kurdish forces, which are supported by the U.S., now control around a third of the country. having taken huge swathes of territory from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Assad said that his generation had been forced to live under the threat of Israeli attack since they were children, but that it was "nonsense" to say that they were afraid.

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He added: "The Americans should leave, somehow they're going to leave". Iran, in conjunction with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, now operates a network of militias recruiting from across the Mideast to fight on Assad's behalf and maintains a command structure separate from the Syrian government. Iranian officials are in one room, and Israeli officials are in an adjacent one, with Jordanian mediators carrying messages back and forth.

"Actually, we had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers", he said.

"Our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation" than at the start of the civil war seven years ago, he said.

"We believe that there is no place for any Iranian military presence, anywhere in Syria", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his parliamentary faction on Monday.

Israel has stepped up its military strikes on suspected Iranian targets across Syria in recent weeks.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has responded to President Donald Trump's branding him an "animal" over the Syrian leader's alleged involvement in a toxic gas attack last month, but said he would not retaliate with insults.

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