TEHRAN – Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad welcomed any initiative aimed at strengthening relations between Iran and Arab countries
In an interview with pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Mayadeen on Sunday, Syria’s top diplomat said his government supports efforts to integrate countries in the region.
He said Iran has always supported the Arabs and sided with the peoples of Syria and Palestine, and welcomed any movement towards rapprochement between Tehran and the Arab world.
“We must react well to the good behavior of the Iranian side,” Mekdad said, according to Press TV.
Mekdad’s interview comes as Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are at odds on a number of issues including Riyadh’s war on Yemen, have held four rounds of talks in Iraq.
Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who returns from the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is also planning to tour Syria and Lebanon, where a new government was formed after months of political instability.
The Syrian foreign minister also said the government in Damascus was “not afraid of Israel or its sponsors” as it reaffirmed its support for Lebanon, which saw Syria serve as a channel for the expeditions. of Iranian fuel to the neighboring country in crisis.
Earlier this week, the second shipment of Iranian fuel bound for Lebanon arrived in the port city of Baniyas in northwestern Syria, as part of an initiative by the Hezbollah resistance movement to alleviate the crisis. energy crippling of the country.
The fuel is imported to sanctions-stricken Lebanon via Syria in an attempt to avoid tangling Lebanon in US sanctions against Iran.
Iran’s humanitarian action has ruffled the feathers in Tel Aviv. Last month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah challenged the Israeli regime to stop the expedition.
“The ship, from the time it sails until it enters (Mediterranean) waters, will be considered Lebanese territory,” he said in a televised speech last month. “To the Americans and the Israelis, I say: this is Lebanese territory.
Mekdad, echoing Nasrallah’s words, said Syria was not afraid of the Israeli regime and its attempts to prevent Iranian fuel from reaching Lebanon.
He also lambasted Western countries for their “double standard” towards the government and the Syrian people.
“Syria does not trust the intentions of Western countries,” Mekdad said. “These countries created terrorism in Syria and funded it and they continue to send terrorists and assassins to Syria.”
Thousands of terrorists have flooded Syria. They mainly used Turkey to enter Syria. The terrorists were mostly from Chechnya (Russia), Pakistan, Egypt and the West.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent group that rose to prominence in the fight against the US occupation in the years following the 2003 invasion, has also flocked to Syria.
“Crime against humanity”
The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs also denounced the unilateral approach of the United States, stressing that Washington has suffered from its estrangement from international organizations.
“Syria is rich in natural resources, but US and European sanctions have caused problems for the country’s economy,” he said, criticizing the regime for sanctions against Syria.
Mekdad also called for the repeal of the Caesar law, which blocks foreign investment in efforts to rebuild Syria, calling it a “crime against humanity” by the US government.
He said the law is “not in the interest of the Syrian people but in the interest of Israel”.
The senior Syrian diplomat also called for the “dignified withdrawal” of US forces from the region, “not like in Afghanistan”.
At the end of August, the Syrian foreign minister declared that the “thunderous defeat” of the United States in Afghanistan would result in similar defeats for the American troops in Syria and in other parts of the world.
Reconciliation program in Dera’a
Several units of the Syrian army were deployed Monday to villages and towns in the al-Yarmouk basin area of western Dera’a, according to the official Syrian news agency SANA.
The deployment took place after the surrender of dozens of armed men and fugitives in the village of Sahem al-Jawlan in the Hauran region of Dera’a governorate.
Meanwhile, operations are underway to bring armed men back to the villages and towns of al-Shajra, al-Qusair, Abedin, Naf’a, Jama’a, Beit Areh and of Koya in the northwestern province of Dara’a in the dominant fold, in accordance with a reconciliation agreement concluded by the Syrian government.
Many similar reconciliation programs have been launched in recent days, from the Dara’a al-Balad neighborhood and continued in other villages and towns in the governorate.
Last week, the Syrian army entered the towns of Tal Shihab and Zaizoun in Daraa, where militants laid down their arms under a truce deal proposed by the government last month.
Full control of Dera’a is considered a significant victory for the government in Damascus as the province borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Returning strategic territory to the Syrian government could sever collaboration between the Israeli regime and the militants and therefore be a blow to Tel Aviv’s plans to annex the Golan Heights.
Meanwhile, Turkey sent reinforcements to northwestern Syria where Russia stepped up its airstrikes, three days before Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan met.
Citing multiple sources, Reuters said Russian jets bombed villages around the city of Afrin on Sunday, stepping up airstrikes on towns and villages held by Turkish-backed militants.
At least five militants from a Turkish-backed faction were killed while at least 12 civilians were injured in the attacks, according to the report.
Erdogan and Putin are due to meet in Sochi on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the war-torn Arab country.
Last week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the ongoing operations of the Turkish army in the north of the country, stressing that the offensives constitute a blatant violation of the sovereignty and independence of the Arab nation.
An anonymous official source from the ministry said the operations were in line with the “hostile policies” of the ruling AK party in Turkey, SANA reported.
The report says Syria calls on UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council to take a clear stance on the Ankara government’s “aggressive policies” as Security Council resolutions reiterate respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.