Rebel-held areas in Syria witness security chaos: monitor group

April FrancisMay 31, 2018

He told Russia Today in an interview aired on Thursday that he favoured negotiations with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led outfit supported by the US-led coalition.

Russian Federation is said to be deliberating an approach that would distance Iranian forces and their Shiite allies from Israel's northern border over concerns that repeated Israeli strikes in the region may jeopardize Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's grip on power, Haaretz reported on Monday citing Israeli security and diplomatic sources.

Along with Iran, Russia is also a military backer of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. If they did not agree to withdraw, he would use force, he said.

"This is the first option. If not, we're going to resort.to liberating those areas by force", he said.

Trump has also blamed his predecessor for supporting Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Assad after a 2011 uprising, saying in 2015 that "Assad may be bad, but we have absolutely no idea who these people are that we're arming".

"Of course, the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces must be carried out on a mutual basis, this should be a two-way street", Lavrov said at a joint news conference in Moscow with Jose Condungua Pacheco, his counterpart from Mozambique.

"The Russians do not want the Iranians to become too powerful in post-ISIS Syria", he said, referring to the multinational effort to crush the extremists that captured swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

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On Monday, a report published by Haaretz said that Russian Federation was deliberating an approach that would distance Iranian forces and its Shiite allies from the northern border. In the process, the Kurds have assumed de facto control over a vast area of mostly desert terrain amounting to almost a third of Syrian territory.

During the interview with RT, Assad also said that the only way to stop Israeli airstrikes on his country was to beef up its air defenses with Russia's help. "I assure you the opposition forces have taken a number of measures ... including digging trenches and tunnels to prevent the regime from launching any attack", he said.

Responding to Trump's description of him as "Animal Assad", the Syrian leader said: "What you say is what you are".

Iran-backed Shi'ite militias, often spearheaded by Lebanon's Hezbollah, have played a critical role fighting in support of Assad.

Assad said Iran's presence in Syria was limited to officers assisting the army.

Rebels control stretches of southwest Syria, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, while Syrian regime forces and allied Iran-backed militias hold nearby territory. Russian Federation would accept that Israel would maintain "its freedom of action against Iranian consolidation in all of Syria".

Sources said the two officials will be ratifying an existing agreement between Israel and the U.S. on how to deal with Iran.

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