PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday the victory of the Syrian people and their allies in the war against terrorism would contribute to establishing a more balanced and just world.
‘Such a world would stand up to the attempts of the imperialist West and its agents in the region at imposing its will that goes against the interests of the region’s peoples, who are committed to their sovereignty and self-determination right,’ added the President during a meeting with Kamal Kharrazi, Head of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations of the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Administration.
The Iranian official affirmed that supporting Syria, be it on the level of fighting foreign-backed terrorism or in the political track, is a firmly established strategic policy for Iran. This policy is firm inasmuch as the Iranian leadership realises that the ultimate aim of the fierce attack on Syria is to undermine its pivotal role within the Resistance front, said Kharrazi.
President al-Assad, for his part, highlighted that the political and military support of Syria’s friendly countries, mainly Iran and Russia, has effectively contributed to consolidating the Syrians’ steadfastness in the war against terrorism and all the way through restoring security and creating the favourable conditions to enable them to decide the future of their country by themselves.
The latest developments in Syria, particularly in relation to the cessation of hostilities agreement, the expanding circle of the national reconciliations and the Syrian dialogue in Geneva, were the main topics of discussion during the meeting.
In the same context, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed during his meeting with Kharrazi that Syria continues to achieve field and political victories despite the fierce campaign against it thanks to the courage of its army and the confidence of its leadership in the inevitable victory in the battle of defending Syria’s territorial integrity and safety and the Syrian people’s independent decision.
Kharrazi, for his part, stressed the importance of backing the role of the resistance which will continue to confront the conspiracies backed by Israel, US and their allies which are aimed at destabilising and partitioning the region through the tools of terrorism and their backers.
Kharrazi and the accompanying delegation also met State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar, who briefed them on local reconciliation in detail, asserting that reconciliation is based in its success on the will of the Syrians.
Haidar stressed that hundreds of wanted persons have had their legal status resolved and returned to their normal lives as a result of reconciliation efforts which he said have benefited more than a million Syrians.
He also lauded the role of Iran and Russia in combating terrorism and their commitment to resolving the Syrian crisis via intra-Syrian dialogue away from foreign interference. For his part, Kharrazi affirmed the importance of the national reconciliation project in achieving a political solution that preserves the integrity and sovereignty of the Syrian state, asserting that Iran will continue to support Syria in fighting terrorism and carrying out dialogue and reconciliation.
• Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah emerged stronger after getting involved in the fight against Takfiri terrorists on the Syrian soil, a senior official with the group says.
‘Hezbollah today is in its best status… (and) it only got stronger after intervening in Syria,’ Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, the head of Hezbollah’s executive council, said on Saturday.
During past few years, Hezbollah resistance fighters have been helping the Syrian army in their battles against Takfiri terror groups, particularly those operating in the areas near the Lebanese border.
The resistance group says its military role in Syria is aimed at preventing the spillover of the Syria crisis into Lebanon. Elsewhere in his remarks, Qaouk slammed the Saudi regime for its ongoing campaign against Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world. ‘Massacres committed by the Saudi regime in Yemen,’ the Hezbollah official said, are a ‘stain’ on humanity.
The senior Hezbollah official further noted that Saudi Arabia started the Yemen war on its own, but it is now ‘seeking to blame Hezbollah and its Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’ for its mistakes. Qaouk added that sanctions against Hezbollah and designating the group as a ‘terror’ organisation ‘will not compensate for Riyadh’s losses in Yemen’.
The Arab League and the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, both under the influence of the Saudi regime, declared Hezbollah a ‘terrorist’ organisation earlier this month. The Hezbollah official said the Saudis ‘are only harvesting disappointments and failure in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon and seeking to rectify those losses’.
Hezbollah will continue on its ‘path of victories and will not be deterred by decisions, sanctions and threats’ against it, Qaouk said. In recent months, the Al Saud regime has been taking steps to mount pressure on Lebanon, a move which analysts have attributed to Riyadh’s anger over Hezbollah’s gains against the Takfiri terrorists it has long supported in Syria.
Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended a $3-billion package to the Lebanese army and $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces. Hezbollah slammed Riyadh’s move, saying that it exposes the real face of Saudi Arabia and refutes its claims about fighting terrorism.
l The Syrian Army Forces and Hezbollah fighters managed to advance further towards the city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province, liberating another important mountain-top that overlooks the ancient city’s Western suburbs. According to a battlefield correspondent embedded with the government forces near Palmyra, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah imposed full control over Jabal Musharraf after a late night battle with the ISIL militants.
The Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters and other Syrian army’s allies, carried out a night assault on ISIL’s lines near Palmyra’s western suburbs, killing several terrorists and confiscating a large cache of weapons from the terrorist group. Earlier reports said that Syrian Army forces and their allies were pushing their way to advance further into the eastern parts of Homs province, and established their control over more areas after fierce clashes with militants in the region.
Military sources said pro-government forces seized control of more strategic hill-tops in both western and southern fringes of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) after heavy clashes with ISIL terrorists in the region. The Syrian Army alongside the popular forces, backed up by the Russian fighter jets, advanced further in al-Hayal and Wadi Abyad Dam, while pushing back ISIL militants in Palmyra-Talal road, southwest of Palmyra.
Meanwhile, military sources reported that tens of terrorists are fleeing the battlefields eastward from Palmyra toward ISIL’s stronghold city of Raqqa as Syrian army troops alongside popular forces continue to smash the terrorists in the eastern parts of Homs province. Battlefield reports also suggested the ISIL Takfiri terrorists were deserting their positions in western as well as southern Palmyra, leaving behind scores of dead and wounded members in Palmyra desert.
• A string of mass protests culminating in an ongoing sit-in at the gates of Baghdad’s Green Zone have thrust the mercurial Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr back on to centre stage. The scion of an influential clerical family from the holy city of Najaf, he first made a name for himself at the age of 30 as a vociferous anti-American cleric who raised a rebellion.
His influence ebbed after the 2011 US pullout but he retained strong support among the lower classes and is now casting himself as the champion of the fight against graft. This is your time to root out corruption and the corrupt,’ he said earlier this month in a call to his supporters to march on the fortified Green Zone and set up protest camps. Thousands of them defied a government ban on Friday to heed their leader’s call and set up tents at the main entrances of the vast restricted area in central Baghdad which houses key state institutions as well as foreign embassies.
Sadr says the goal of the protests is the formation of a cabinet of technocrats to replace party-affiliated politicians he says have perpetuated a system based on nepotism and patronage. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi himself made the proposal but he is being undermined by parties – including his own – whose barons are reluctant to relinquish their positions and attendant privileges.
While ostensibly declaring his support for Abadi’s proposed reforms, Sadr’s decision to take to the street leaves the prime minister even closer to the brink. The sit-in and the huge security deployment around it have paralysed central Baghdad and Sadr has given Abadi an ultimatum expiring in a week to present names for a new cabinet.
‘This is a serious escalation,’ said Ahmed Ali, of the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Iraq. Sadr started this thing and will not go silent now, he wants to go all the way,’ said Issam al-Faily, professor of political science at Baghdad’s Mustansiriya University.
Since he took over the premiership in 2014, and despite the backing of the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Abadi has ruled with very tenuous support from his own government. Now any reform that does go through would risk looking like a victory for Sadr and create more unease among the country’s other, rival Shiite leaders.
‘The Sadrists are attempting to reinsert themselves forcefully into the Iraqi Shiite political sphere which is getting more contentious by the moment,’ said Ahmed Ali. The top players in the Shiite-majority country, many of them aligned with Iran, are fretting at the resurgence of the populist cleric, who was once a Tehran client but has since reinvented himself as a nationalist.