Iran Lauds End of IS

The liberation of Rawa in Iraq and Abu Kamal in Syria effectively mark the end of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” established by the self-styled Islamic State terror group in 2014
President Hassan Rouhani addresses a meeting at Farmers' House in Tehran on Nov. 21.President Hassan Rouhani addresses a meeting at Farmers' House in Tehran on Nov. 21.

President Hassan Rouhani hailed the liberation of Abu Kamal in Syria, which destroyed the "basis and foundation" of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, describing the elimination of its last urban stronghold in the Arab country as "good news" for Iranians and other regional nations.

Speaking in a meeting of Farmers' House in Tehran on Tuesday, Rouhani praised the role of Iranian advisors assisting the Syrian and Iraqi troops in their anti-terror push and diplomats working to achieve a political settlement of the conflict in Syria, reported.

"The people and armies of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon bore the real burden [of wiping out the group], and we assisted them based on our religious and Islamic duty," he said.

Syrian forces managed to capture the eastern city on Sunday, two days after Iraqi troops retook Rawa, the last remaining Iraqi town under IS control.

The liberation of the two cities effectively marked an end of the self-proclaimed "caliphate" established in 2014, after the Syria-based terror group overran large swathes of Iraq in a lightning offensive.

The outfit has lost most of the areas under its control in Syria, holding only a small territory near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Rouhani said the terror group, which brought nothing but "destruction and savagery" and committed unspeakable crimes, was "nourished" by some big powers and reactionary states in the region.

"We never thought criminals supported by the US and the Israeli regime would commit such atrocities in the 21st century," he said.

The Iranian president said sponsors of the IS had dreamed that it would stay in the region for years.

"Thanks to God and the endeavors of nations in the region, we can now say that this evil has been lifted from the minds of the people or has been diminished. Of course, its remnants will continue, but their basis and foundation have been destroyed," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps who personally led the Abu Kamal battle, congratulated the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the collapse of the terror group in Syria and Iraq.

In a message to the Leader, Soleimani, who heads the IRGC branch responsible for overseas operations, said the victory was achieved thanks to the prudent leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei and the sacrifices of volunteer fighters in Iraq and Syria.

  Syria Summit

As military operations in Syria are nearing an end, the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey are to convene today to discuss the acceleration of the Syrian peace process.

The summit is to be held in the Russian city of Sochi, bringing together Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin and their Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The trio brokered a ceasefire in Syria in Dec. 2016, after the liberation of Aleppo knocked the final nail in the coffin of regime change dreams, which sparked fierce conflicts that have left hundreds of thousands dead and millions homeless in Syria.

The trio later started holding peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, which are aimed at achieving a political settlement of the lingering issue.

The Astana talks have led to agreements to set up four "de-escalation zones" within Syria, which have sharply reduced violence in the Arab country.

In the last round of the talks late last month, the three guarantors of the ceasefire agreed to discuss proposals for holding a national dialogue congress, which is expected to be held in Sochi.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday the Sochi summit will help "relaunch direct negotiations between the Syrian government and a range of the opposition."

Lavrov said the three presidents will agree on the makeup of the participants in the congress during the meeting.

The date of the congress is yet to be fixed.

The Sochi meeting comes a week before the resumption of UN-led peace talks in Geneva.

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