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Defense Minister Visiting Syria

Defense Minister Visiting SyriaDefense Minister Visiting Syria

Defense Minister Amir Hatami arrived in Syria on a two-day visit to review prospects for developing bilateral cooperation.

General Hatami and his delegation arrived in Damascus Sunday morning on the invitation of Syria’s Defense Minister General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub.

"We hope to play a productive role in the reconstruction of Syria," Hatami was quoted as saying on arrival, Tasnim News Agency reported.

Hatami was scheduled to hold talks with Syria’s military brass and political leaders on the latest developments in the region, joint action against terrorism, and ways to expand military cooperation.

The minister is also scheduled to call on President Bashar al-Assad, according to IRNA news agency.

The visit comes as the protracted conflict in the Arab country has moved in Assad’s favor and with rebel forces being routed in many parts of the country. Pro-government forces are preparing to launch an assault on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold.

Last week, the hard-line White House national security adviser John Bolton urged Moscow to help end Iran’s military presence in the war-ravaged country.

The US supports rebels fighting against Assad’s government.

After meeting with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, Bolton said in Geneva on August 23 that the two had discussed a “series of steps” that would lead to the removal of Iran's military presence in Syria.

Before the meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the US insistence on the withdrawal of Iranian forces is a "reflection of the dominating aspiration in Washington to dictate to everyone else their own beliefs about what is good and what is bad."

Iranian officials say their military presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Damascus government and that they have no immediate plans to withdraw.

Iran, along with Russia, has backed the embattled Assad in his fight against a foreign-backed militancy. Iranian military advisors were instrumental in last year’s defeat of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in the Arab country.

The war has killed an estimated half a million people and displaced millions of others since March 2011.

 

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