Iran's Role in Syria Not Subject to US-Russia Deals

Hossein Jaberi AnsariHossein Jaberi Ansari

A senior diplomat said the presence of Iranian advisors in Syria to help the Arab country in its anti-terror drive was agreed upon by Tehran and Damascus, and is not subject to agreements among other countries concerning the lingering Syria conflict.

"Even if others sign agreements [on areas] covering Iran's presence [in Syria], these pacts would have no real impact," IRNA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari as telling reporters on Saturday.

He was responding to a question whether a ceasefire plan for an area in southwestern Syria devised by the US, Russia and Jordan on July 7 affects the Iranian advisors deployed in Syria.

The deal went into effect on July 9 to establish a de-escalation zone in an area involving parts of the Syrian provinces of Daraa, Sweida and Quneitra bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Ansari described Iran's deployment of advisors to Syria as "limited" and aimed at restoring peace and stability to Syria and accelerating the settlement of the six-year conflict.

"We are not after widening the scope of our presence in Syria. What matters to the Islamic Republic is that the humanitarian catastrophe and destruction of Syria ends as soon as possible," he said.

  US Adherence Doubtful  

Asked about Iran's view on the US-Russia deal, Ansari said the US adherence to the deal is yet to be tested.

"So far, Americans have changed their stances frequently and dealt with developments tactically. If they also see this deal as tactical, there may be short-term results but in the mid and long term, no positive outcome is expected," he said.

The diplomat was speaking after a meeting with Russian President's Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev who had earlier in the day held talks with Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani in Tehran.

The two diplomats led the Iranian and Russian delegations in Astana peace talks on Syria, whose fifth round was held on July 4-5. Ansari said they discussed in detail the latest Syrian developments and reviewed ways of resolving differences among players in the conflict blocking a political settlement.

"Today, we tried to find innovative solutions to problems. We will have similar discussions with Turkish officials too, and in two weeks, we will convene an expert-level meeting in Tehran. We hope these meetings will help us gradually overcome obstacles," he said.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity regarding the crisis in Syria and frequent meetings between Iranian and Russian officials.

The two countries, backers of the Syrian government, and Turkey, a supporter of militants, tried in the latest round of Astana talks to finalize an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria but failed.

They agreed to resume their discussions on creating the safe zones in Syria in the next round scheduled for late August. The next conference will be preceded by the expert-level meeting set for August 1-2 in Tehran.

The latest round of UN-brokered Geneva talks on political settlement of the conflict started last Monday and ended on Saturday. United Nations Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said following the conclusion of the talks that an "incremental progress" was made.


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