Syrian regime says US must leave Tanf base

Al Mua’llem says Iran’s presence is ‘legitimate’ and based on regime invitation

Beirut: Syria’s foreign minister said on Saturday that US forces must withdraw from the Tanf base in the south, and that Damascus had not engaged in talks over the country’s southern region.

Walid Al Mua’llem also told a news conference that the regime had communicated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but no negotiation process had started.

He said Raqqa city, which SDF militias control, “must be rebuilt and liberated” from any foreign presence.

He also said Iran’s presence is legitimate and based on an invitation of the regime. The Israeli regime has repeatedly warned against any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. Al Mua’llem said Israel is making false claims to try and pressure Iran, its arch-rival.

In May, Israel carried out a wave of air strikes in response to what it said was an Iranian rocket attack on its positions in the occupied Golan Heights. It was the most serious confrontation between Israel and Iran to date.

Scores of Iranian soldiers have been killed in battles with insurgents in Syria, including a number of officers.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian security official was quoted as saying on Saturday that Tehran supports a Russian-led effort to impose Syrian regime control over the south of Syria, amid reports that Damascus is preparing a major military offensive in the area.

Russia said last week that only Syrian regime troops should be on the country’s southern border with Jordan and Israel.

Syrian regime forces, in their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year conflict, have driven rebels out of all territory near the capital Damascus this year. For weeks there have been reports that the regime’s next target would be the zone in the south, one of only two large areas left in the hands of fighters seeking to topple Bashar Al Assad.

Washington said any offensive in the area would violate a ceasefire it has jointly sponsored with Moscow for that part of Syria, and has warned it would take “firm measures” in response.

Rebels control stretches of southwest Syria, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, while Syrian regime troops and allied Iran-backed militias hold nearby territory.


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