Iran staying in Syria upon Damascus request, Zarif says

October 30, 2019

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran is staying in Syria upon the Syrian government and people’s request.

“We will be in Syria as long as the Syrian government and people want. Russia and Iran are in Syria’s soil at the invitation of Damascus,” IRNA quoted Zarif as saying in a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, after a ministerial meeting in the Astana format in Geneva.

Zarif also said that formation of a Syrian constitutional committee is a “challenging process”.

He noted that the committee should be formed and guided without any foreign interference.

According to Sputnik, Zarif said that the Syrian territory “should be controlled only by government, armed forces of Syria, and that no threat should emanate for neighboring countries”.

Elsewhere, Zarif joked about the United States staying in Syria to protect the oil fields there, saying President Donald Trump is at least honest about Washington’s intentions.

“Well, it seems that the United States is staying to protect the oil and at least President Trump is honest to say what the United States intends to do,” the chief diplomat remarked.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Saturday said the U.S. has no right to seize oil fields currently controlled by Kurdish forces in the eastern Syrian area of Deir el-Zour,  Deutsche Welle reported.

The condemnation came amid reports that a U.S. military convoy of a dozen vehicles was moving south towards the site.

An unnamed U.S. military official confirmed to AFP news agency that the Pentagon began reinforcing its presence in Deir el-Zour, which boasts rich oil fields

"This, what Washington is doing now — capturing and maintaining control through the use of arms over oil fields in eastern Syria — that is, to put it simply, international, state-sponsored banditry," said Russian General Igor Konashenkov.

The tension comes as Kurdish-led forces were forced to retreat from parts of the northeast border, as laid out by a cease-fire deal struck bilaterally between Russia and Turkey.
 
NA/PA
 

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