EghtesadOnline: Washington appears unready to play a serious role in fighting Islamic State, as it has fostered terrorists itself and now wants them to remain in the Middle East, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told RT.
“The Western coalition is of a formal nature, they have no real intention to fight neither in Syria nor in Iraq. We don’t see any readiness on their part to play a truly useful and meaningful role in fighting IS, because it’s them who have raised terrorists and they are interested in keeping them there,” Dehghan said.
Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to take part in the Syrian peace process, Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan told Russia's state-backed RT TV station in an interview.
According to ISNA, he said that he thought Saudi Arabia's insistence that President Bashar al-Assad should step down meant Riyadh should not participate in future Syrian peace talks.
According to the Iranian defense minister, Tehran has never coordinated its operations with the Americans and “will never collaborate with them.”
“Maybe the coalition forces would like to see terrorists weakened, but certainly not destroyed, because those terrorists are their tool for destabilizing this region and some other parts of the world.”
He also mentioned Al-Nusra Front (also known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) and said that terrorists in Syria receive support from the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He also accused Turkey of supporting terrorists on the ground.
“If Iran, Russia and Syria were to reach an agreement with Turkey to end Turkish support for those terrorist groups, particularly IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and start fighting them, then I think we would see the situation in Syria improve,” he added.
According to the minister, any ceasefire in Syria demands guarantees and all parties should agree to fulfill the conditions for a truce.
“We shouldn’t let Islamic State or Al-Nusra groups take part in the ceasefire. All other groups should start a political process and negotiations with the Syrian government.”
He added that after the truce comes into force, it is important to separate terrorists and opposition groups ready to negotiate with the Syrian government.
All sides should fight IS and Al-Nusra Front, Dehghan stated, adding that everyone should stop supporting terrorists in political, financial and military areas.
Terrorists in Syria have suffered huge losses in organizational structure and morale in recent months, Dehghan said.
“However, during the recent ceasefire they might have been able to rearm, regroup, and prepare for upcoming fights. During the battle for [the Syrian city of] Aleppo they lost many commanders and fighters. These losses made terrorists leave Aleppo.”
Earlier in December, Dehghan met his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Sergey Shoigu and Fikri Işık respectively, and agreed to prepare a text of the Moscow declaration on immediate steps to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Aleppo, one of Syria’s largest cities, had been divided into government-held and rebel-held parts since 2012. Constant hostilities there resulted in widespread destruction and many civilian casualties.
In October, government forces managed to capture many of the areas of Aleppo held by various armed groups, prompting negotiations and an agreement to evacuate anti-government fighters and their civilian supporters. The evacuation, which began in mid-December, was supervised by humanitarian organizations including the Red Cross and the World Health Organization.
The Russian military is currently involved in minesweeping the liberated areas, providing humanitarian aid to returning residents, and restoring basic utilities, the Iranian defense minister added. He lamented that some humanitarian organizations which had criticized Russia for blocking aid deliveries while fighting continued in Aleppo are not eager to provide relief now that it is safe to do so.