EghtesadOnline: Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei voiced objection to a plan to create a safe zone in northern Syria, calling it one of the United States’ new plots hatched after failing to suppress the resistance movement in the Arab country.
In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran on Monday, the Leader cautioned the Damascus government to remain alert to Washington’s intrigues, as it is furious over the victory of the resistance front.
“The issue of a buffer zone that Americans are seeking to create in Syria is among dangerous plots that should be firmly rejected,” he was quoted as saying by his website.
Turkey has called on world powers to help create a zone along the Syrian border to protect civilians in its war-torn southern neighbor, with the aim of clearing its border of the self-styled Islamic State terrorists and Kurdish militia fighters, according to Financial Tribune.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in January he had discussed the plan during a phone call with US President Donald Trump and the talks were positive.
A US State Department official later said Washington was actively engaging with Turkey on the formation of the zone.
“That is part of our efforts to ensure a safe withdrawal of United States forces and a stabilized northeast Syria,” Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino had said, adding that the US takes Ankara’s “legitimate security concerns seriously”.
Other western allies, however, have balked at the idea, saying it would be a major commitment in such a crowded and messy battlefield.
Russia has told Turkey that it had no right to create a safe zone inside Syria unless it sought and received the consent of President Assad.
“The question of the presence of a military contingent acting on the authority of a third country on the territory of a sovereign country and especially Syria must be decided directly by Damascus. That’s our base position,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
New US Plots
Ayatollah Khamenei also pointed to the US intention to have an effective presence on the Syria-Iraq border as another instance of its ill-intentioned plans.
Trump was going to pull all 2,000 American troops out of Syria, but then decided to leave a part of them in the Arab country and neighboring Iraq to “watch” Iran.
The US president announced a plan to leave about 400 troops in Syria, 200 in the northeastern part of the country and another 200 at a small outpost in the southeast, where they will seek to counter Iran’s influence throughout the country.
“The resistance movement is dependent on continued and strategic [Iran-Syria] relations. On this account, enemies will not be able to operationalize their plans,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei commended Assad for his diligence that has turned him into “the Arab world’s hero”.
“The Islamic Republic will stand by Syria as in the past … and deeply takes pride in supporting the resistance,” he said.
Assad expressed his thanks to Tehran for assisting his country during the crisis, saying the resistance shown to the US has dispelled the false perception that Washington determines the fate of the world.
He also said American attempts to divide the Syrian nation were counterproductive, as ethnic groups are today more aligned with the government than before.
“Iran and Syria need to continue to expand their economic ties, as this is a major factor in foiling the plots of the two nations’ enemies,” he said.
Offering Reconstruction Help
President Hassan Rouhani, who also met Assad later the same day, told his Syrian counterpart that Iran is ready to cooperate in the war-torn country’s reconstruction.
“Tehran will stand by Damascus in the process of [restoring] stability, taking back the refugees and making domestic political reforms,” he was quoted as saying by his website.
He pointed to the recent visit to Syria by First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, describing it as “positive” and “fruitful” in helping enhance mutual political and economic cooperation.
Assad said the Syrian government and nation are thankful for Iran’s assistance in the fight against terrorism and efforts to preserve security in his country and the region.
“I have traveled to Tehran to express this appreciation,” he said.