SYRIAN Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has said that Iran’s missile strikes against militant positions in the country’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr in retaliation for the recent terror attack in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz was part of ‘legitimate’ cooperation between Damascus and Tehran in the fight against terrorism.
‘The Iranian missiles are in the framework of combating terrorism,’ Muallem said in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network. His remarks came a day after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) rained surface-to surface ballistic missiles on the strongholds of Daesh Takfiri terror group, which along with the al-Ahwazia separatist militant outfit, claimed responsibility for the September 22 attack.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) struck the gatherings of the ringleaders of the recent terror attack in the southwestern city of Ahvaz with several surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. The IRGC announced in a statement that the missiles were launched at 2 a.m. local time on Monday (2230 GMT Sunday) from the western Iranian city of Kermanshah.
The statement added that drones bombarded Daesh positions after the missile strikes.
Muallem noted, ‘Syria is no longer the focus of the international debate, and will write the last chapter in the fight against terrorism. ‘The last chapter of the Syrian war includes the liberation of Idlib in addition to the northeastern countryside of Aleppo, which stretches from Manbij to the eastern bank of the Euphrates.’
The top Syrian diplomat added that the main goal of the quadripartite aggression on Latakia is to prolong the Syrian conflict, and give Israel the opportunity to digest victories recorded by Syrian army forces and allied fighters from popular defence groups.
Muallem also stressed that Syrian air defence systems have successfully countered Israeli missiles and downed more than two thirds of them. He then expressed confidence in Syria’s ability to protect its airspace against Israeli aggression and/or other aggressors.
Commenting on the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which Syria would acquire from Russia in the near future, the Syrian foreign minister said the system would keep his country’s airspace safe.
• Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman has expressed Tel Aviv’s discontent over Russia’s delivery of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria, stressing the move will not deter the Israeli regime from military operations in the war-ravaged Arab country. ‘I cannot say that we are pleased with the deployment of the S-300. However, this is the very topic where we have no way out. There is no way not to make decisions,’ he said.
Lieberman further stated that it was important for Moscow and Tel Aviv to restore normal ties despite their disagreements over the recent downing of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Syria’s western province of Latakia.
‘I think the most important thing for us today is… to return the working relationship to normal. It is today the most important task – to return to normal operation, coordination, to more actively use the “hot line” to prevent conflict situations. We need to work,’ he commented.
The Russian defence minister has meanwhile said that his country has completed delivering an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria despite strong objections from Israel. Lieberman asserted that the Tel Aviv regime ‘has conducted more than 200 strikes against designated targets in Syria over the past two years, and not a single Russian soldier received a single scratch.’
‘At the time when the Syrian air defences opened fire, Israeli planes were already in our airspace,” Lieberman alleged. Speaking at a Russian Security Council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country had completed the delivery of an S-300 missile system to Syria, irrespective of Israeli authorities’ strong opposition that it will pose a serious ‘challenge’ to the Tel Aviv regime.
Russia is reportedly delivering advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile defence systems to Syria using the world’s largest military transport aircraft. ‘We have embarked on a number of activities aimed at strengthening the air defence systems of the Syrian Arab Republic in order to ensure better protection for our military personnel.
‘We have completed the delivery of S-300 complexes. This includes 49 pieces of equipment: illuminating laser radiolocators, defence priority systems, control vehicles and four missile launchers. ‘The work was completed a day ago. We have delivered the whole system to Syria,’ Shoigu said. The Russian defence minister added that it will take three months to train Syrian specialists to use the S-300 air defence missile system.
• As the Syrian army clears swathes of the country from the control of foreign-backed terrorists, there are signs on the horizon that some countries who were previously lending support to those terrorists have come to grips with reality that the Syrian government is going to be there for the foreseeable future and are accordingly changing course from hostility to recognising the sovereignty of Damascus.
In the latest development, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa has been seen in a friendly encounter with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, at headquarters of the United Nations on the sidelines of the 73rd annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The video shows the rare encounter between the two ministers, who hugged each other, shook hands and exchanged a few words as other officials from both countries were watching the scene. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011.
The development is notable as Bahrain was one of those countries who voted to freeze Syria’s membership at the Arab League in Cairo after which, many Arab countries also recalled their ambassadors from Damascus.
Another factor that makes the encounter one-of-a-kind is that Bahrain, which has been also faced with an uprising by the country’s Shia majority since 2011, owes its survival to Saudi Arabia’s help, which send forces to the tiny Persian Gulf monarchy to suppress Bahraini protesters.
As a result, Manama has so far served as a Saudi stooge to promote Riyadh’s political agenda on various fronts, including by funding and abetting terrorist operations against the legitimate government of Syria.
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia has spared neither effort nor money in helping foreign-backed militancy in the war-ravaged Syria and Bahrain, as one of its close allies, has been a tool in its grand plan to topple the Syrian government. Virtually all of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council states supported various militant groups in Syrian over the past years. In recent years, however, this unity has diminished and states’ priorities have changed.
Those countries that have invested the most in the Syrian conflict, namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have fallen apart. The current splits between Riyadh and Doha seem durable. Other countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have toned down their rhetoric and reduced their support for militants.
Unlike Saudi Arabia and some of its allies, Egypt has also repeatedly expressed support for Syria’s unity and the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Egypt condemned an April 14 missile attack by the US, Britain and France against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs.
Egypt has voiced deep concern over the current military escalation in Syria.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said Cairo and Riyadh did not share common views on the Syria crisis while Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi stressed that he supported the Syrian army in its war against terrorists.
Egyptian Charge d’Affaires in Damascus Muhammad Tharwat and the delegation members stressed their support for the Syrian people and for the Syrian government, and their desire for closer economic relations and Egyptian participation in the rehabilitation of Syria.
In an interview with the Syrian government Al-Watan daily, Tharwat said, ‘Egypt’s participation in this year’s Damascus International Fair is natural given the character of the commercial relations between the two countries.
‘We hope that this participation will play a part in restoring the economic relations between the two countries, and that we will play a part in the re-building of Syria.”’
In a surprising change of tone, Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman, who has a long history of hurling threats of doom and destruction against Syria and President al-Assad, last week expressed readiness to reopen the Quneitra border crossing with Syria in the Golan Heights.
‘We are ready to open the crossing as it was before, and now the ball is in the Syrian court,’ Lieberman told reporters as he toured the area on Thursday.
Lieberman added that Israel never wanted conflict with Syria and was ready to ensure a 1974 armistice agreement between the two sides is strictly observed.