Terrorists must not be allowed to use the ceasefire to reinforce

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IRANIAN President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic welcomes Syria’s nationwide ceasefire, but warned against the strengthening of terrorists during the truce time in the Arab country.

‘One must watch out that no opportunity will be created during the time of ceasefire for the terrorists’ reinforcement,’ Rouhani said in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Major General Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, in Tehran on Saturday.

The ceasefire, which took effect across Syria at midnight on Friday, excludes the most brutal of terror outfits operating in the Arab country, namely Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

The truce was mediated by Russia and Turkey, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the anti-Damascus militants. Rouhani further hailed the great achievements made by the Syrian government, army and people in the fight against terrorists, particularly in the recently-liberated strategic city of Aleppo.

‘The victory in Aleppo conveys this message to the terrorists that they will never be successful in the wrong path they have chosen which is replete with crime and bloodshed,’ the Iranian president said.

He added that the liberation of Aleppo has prepared suitable grounds for field activities against terrorists and political measures meant to restore stability and security to Syria. He expressed hope that future steps to solve the Syrian crisis and initiate peace talks would lead to the establishment of security for the Syrian people and the maintenance of the country’s territorial integrity.

‘The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stood by the Syrian nation in their resistance and at different political scenes, and will continue its support in the future,’ Rouhani said, adding, ‘We are confident that the Syrian people will achieve a final victory and success.’

He further stressed the importance of reinforcing unity and coordination among Iran, Russia and Syria to help Damascus restore stability and sustainable security to the country. The countrywide ceasefire in Syria came one week after the Syrian army announced its full control over Aleppo when the last remaining militants were evacuated along with civilians from the eastern sector of the city under a truce deal mediated by Ankara and Moscow.

Muallem, for his part, said Iran’s full support for Syria has played and will play a leading role in the Arab state’s fight against terrorism. He commended the support of Iran and Russia for the Syrian government and nation and called for more cooperation among the three countries in this regard.

The Syrian foreign minister also said Iran has an important position in the region and urged further enhanced ties with Tehran. Muallem arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a day-long visit at the head of a high-ranking delegation. Earlier in the day, he held talks with senior Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

• A senior Iranian official has hailed the Syrian army’s latest triumph over foreign-backed terrorists in the flashpoint city of Aleppo, stressing that Tehran is set to maintain its ‘strategic ties’ with Damascus.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Tehran on Sunday. ‘Aleppo’s liberation is a major victory, and Syria’s friends and enemies acknowledge it,’ said Velayati.

The official further praised deep-rooted and longstanding ties between the Iranian and Syrian nations, adding that the Islamic Republic will preserve its ‘strategic’ relations with the Arab country. On Friday, the Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting under a deal with the foreign-backed opposition.

The ceasefire, which does not apply to Daesh and Fateh al-Sham terrorist groups, came eight days after the Syrian military announced full control over Aleppo and called it a ‘crushing blow’ to terrorists. The Aleppo liberation came after the last remaining Takfiri elements were evacuated from the city along with civilians under a ceasefire deal mediated by Ankara and Moscow.

Muallem, for his part, called Aleppo’s recapture a joint victory for Syria and Iran. Damascus has been seeking to bring an end to fighting and pave the way for intra-Syrian talks through cooperation between Iran, Russia and Syria, he added.

Touching on the upcoming Syria peace talks expected to take place in Kazakh capital city of Astana, the top Syrian diplomat said that for the discussions to be successful, armed groups have to distance themselves from Daesh and Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Members of the two terror outfits should also retreat from areas on the outskirts of Aleppo, he pointed out. The Syrian foreign minister further thanked Iran’s Leader as well as its nation and government for supporting Syria in different areas, particularly in Damascus’ fight against terror and efforts to find a political solution to the crisis plaguing the Arab country since 2011.

Muallem also expressed his satisfactions with the trilateral Tehran-Moscow-Damascus cooperation, saying it has been fruitful in anti-terror battles. He arrived in Tehran on Saturday at the head of a high-ranking delegation. He held talks with senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

A senior Iranian official has hailed great efforts made by the Syrian nation and government during years of fight against terrorist groups, saying Syria has emerged victorious in the terrorist world war against the country. Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani made the remarks in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Major General Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, in Tehran on Saturday.

The senior Iranian official pointed to the ongoing nationwide ceasefire in Syria and said the country’s maintenance of its military power and its monitoring of all moves by the armed groups were the only way to ensure that the militants remained committed to the truce.

The ceasefire agreement excludes the most brutal of terror outfits operating in Syria, namely Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front. The truce was mediated by Russia and Turkey, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the anti-Damascus militants.

Ankara has stepped up its cooperation with Moscow recently, prompting speculation that Turkey might be moving away from the US, which is supporting Kurdish militants in Syria. Russia and Turkey successfully brokered a similar accord following the defeat of militants, which ended years of fighting in the strategic Syrian city of Aleppo and facilitated the evacuation of residents from the city.

Shamkhani further emphasised that any political path and negotiations which would weaken Syria’s legal government, give away parts of the country’s territory to terrorist groups or result in the foreign military occupation of the country ‘run counter to people’s interests and are a threat to regional countries and are doomed to failure.’

The SNSC secretary also said the liberation of Aleppo was a turning point in Syria’s political and military developments as well as the equations of power in the region. The war on Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terrorists will continue in Syria and the armed groups which are not following the terrorist front must make use of the ceasefire opportunity and return to the negotiating table with Syria’s legal government,’ Shamkhani added.

He emphasised that a relentless fight against terrorism and intra-Syria talks would be the sole path to the restoration of peace and security to Syria. The Iranian official said the liberation of Aleppo thwarted Western countries’ plot to partition the Middle East region and proved that coherence and coordination in the resistance front can lead to the victory against terrorists.

The Syrian military announced on December 22 that it had gained full control of the northwestern city of Aleppo, having completely cleansed its eastern side of militants for the first time since 2012. The victory came about despite support for the militants by the United States, Turkey, and some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region.

Muallem and Mamlouk said Syria would proceed with the relentless battle against terrorist groups and their sponsors.

They added that the Syrian government and nation would never allow their country’s division, the persistence of terrorists’ presence in Syria or any foreign military occupation. Iranian, Syrian FMs discuss Syria developments, ceasefire

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his visiting Syrian counterpart held three rounds of talks in Tehran on the latest developments in Syria and the current ceasefire in the Arab country.

The top Iranian and Syrian diplomats also discussed the dispatch of humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged country, the fight against terrorist groups and political initiatives for peace talks. Muallem arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a day-long visit at the head of a high-ranking delegation to hold talks with senior Iranian officials.