Pledge to Maintain Advisory Support for Syria

Pledge to Maintain Advisory Support for Syria Pledge to Maintain Advisory Support for Syria

A senior official said Tehran will continue to provide the Syrian Army with advisory support in its fight against terrorist groups.

"The advisory presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria will continue until after the elimination of the intrigues [against Syria]," Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, made the statement in an interview with Tasnim News Agency published on Sunday.

Since 2011, Syria has been the scene of a standoff between the Syrian Army and various armed groups fighting to topple the government, mostly takfiri militants from the self-styled Islamic State and Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front, which has recently been renamed Jabhat Fath Al-Sham.

Takfiris accuse followers of some Islamic sects who do not accept their extreme interpretation of Islam as apostates, punishable by death.

In recent months, the Syrian forces and their allies have begun efforts to liberate parts of Aleppo, the second largest Syrian city, which were seized by foreign-backed militants in 2012. Sheikholeslam said the full liberation of Aleppo will utterly disappoint militant groups and lead to their full eradication.

"Arrogant western powers are doing their best to disintegrate Syria and for that end, they need two capitals. The only place that can be a new capital is Aleppo," he said.

"Those powers are trying to prevent the government from having all of Aleppo, so it can be introduced as the capital [of a separate country], but the liberation of Aleppo is in sight."

In recent weeks, the Syrian forces have encircled all Aleppo neighborhoods controlled by militants. Syria, along with Russia, has also mounted a humanitarian operation since Thursday, which opens three corridors for civilians to get out of the encircled areas and one corridor for militants to surrender themselves and benefit from a general amnesty. Sheikholeslam said the Aleppo operation is going forward slowly, because the priority is to save people's lives. "They should make calculated and careful moves. The most important task is to save lives and that is why the operation is being carried out slowly," he said.

Asked whether western powers still seek to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the advisor said they were dreaming about that five years ago, but now, they have concluded that they cannot do that and that is why they are talking more about a political solution. "Definitely, Americans wanted to see the fall of Damascus and still want, but they are disappointed," he said.

"If Damascus had fallen, IS would have attacked Iraq with full force and Baghdad and Erbil would have fallen and IS would have been now at our borders."

Asked to comment on the US support for Kurdish Syrian forces in northern Syria and media speculations about possible plans for Kurdish separation from Syria, Sheikholeslam said Americans seek to divide the region based on ethnicity by creating new states.

These new little states can be easily controlled and they would also "justify the existence of Israel with a Jewish nationality", he said.