Russia Calls Iranian Invasion of Syria ‘Legitimate’ as Putin Hugs Assad in Sochi

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) embraces his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in Sochi on November 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has deemed the Iranian military presence in Syria “legitimate” and the U.S.-backed forces as the top threat facing the region, refuting claims that the Kremlin had agreed to ensure the withdrawal of Islamic Republic-allied troops from Syria, revealed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The revelation comes as Shiite Iran and its allies, including the narco-terrorist group Hezbollah and its hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have declared victory over the Sunni Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), currently believed to be on its last legs in its nearly evaporated caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

In March, the United States, Russia, and Israel reportedly reached a consensus on the threat posed by pro-Iranian forces in Syria, agreeing that “pro-Iranian forces would need their movements in Syria restricted, eventually leading to their expulsion from the war-torn country,” reported Breitbart Jerusalem.

Last week, the Jerusalem Post reiterated that the United States and Russia had agreed to expel Iranian-linked forces from the Israeli-Syrian region, adding that Kremlin President Vladimir Putin and Trump are committed to a much-needed political solution to the Syrian conflict.

However, Haaretz noted that Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited Lavrov as indicating that Moscow does not intend to push its pro-Iranian allies out of Syria.

Interfax further quoted Lavrov as saying Iran’s military presence in Syria is “legitimate.”

Iran deployed up to 140,000 Shiite forces, including members of the country’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah, its hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and fighters from neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Iraq and Syria.

During a meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for his alleged fight against terrorism, noting that victory is imminent.

The state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported, “Assad indicated that the victories achieved against terrorism led to the return of security to many areas and subsequently, citizens returned to them and the wheel of normal  life began to move again, in addition to pushing the political track forwards to find solution to the crisis in Syria.”

Military assistance from Iran and Russia helped turn the tide of the ongoing Syrian war in favor of dictator Bashar al-Assad, to the dismay of the United States.

In Sochi, Assad thanked the Russian armed forces for “saving our country” as the dictator and Putin claimed the Kremlin’s intervention was nearing its end, reported Financial Times (FT). 

The Russian president has been talking about withdrawing Russian forces from Syria since early 2016.

U.S.-led coalition forces and, to a lesser extent, troops loyal to the Iran and Russian-backed Assad regime have defeated the Islamic State in much of its former territory in Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, Putin stressed his intentions to continue to coordinate military operations with Syria, suggesting Russia intends to support keeping the pro-Kremlin Assad on the helm of Syria’s leadership.

SANA noted that Assad “underlined the importance of this meeting to coordinate on the highest levels between the two sides on different issues which the two countries are interested in including the continuation of combating terrorism, the exerted efforts with regard to the political track, the national dialogue congress and the next tripartite summit in Sochi.”

As the Syrian war appears to be winding down, the U.S.-led coalition is beginning to discuss the prospect of peace and the overall future of the war-devastated nation, mainly whether or not Assad should remain in power.

The United States has long opposed the Assad regime, but Russia and Iran continue to support the dictator.

Without explicitly mentioning the U.S., Assad claims he is open to negotiating a political solution to Syria’s conflict with any interested party, “as long as it is based on the Syrian sovereignty and the Syrian decision,” noted SANA.

This month, BBC learned from anonymous Western officials that state-sponsor of terrorism Iran is establishing a permanent military presence inside Syria.

The facility is expected to be erected about 31 miles from Syria’s Golan Heights, a region that straddles the 47-mile Israeli-Syrian border.

In an unprecedented move facilitated by the strategic territory it has conquered in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic Republic has made its long-cherished goal of establishing a “Shiite crescent” sphere of influence a reality.

The “Shiite crescent” refers to a single land route that connects territory held by Iranian allies — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Iranian-controlled government of Iraq.

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