Press TV- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the recent recapture of the strategic northwestern city of Aleppo from foreign-backed terrorists is a victory not just for his country, but also for its Russian and Iranian allies.
Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and his accompanying delegation in Damascus on Thursday.
Aleppo’s liberation “is also a relapse for all the countries that are hostile towards the Syrian people and that have used terrorism as a means to realize their interests,” he said
The Syrian head of state also hailed the battlefield successes as a “basic step on the road to ending terrorism in the whole of Syrian territory and creating the right circumstances for a solution to end the war.”
Jaberi Ansari, for his part, briefed Assad on the ongoing diplomatic efforts aimed at ending terrorism in Syria, particularly recent trilateral meetings between Iranian, Russian and Turkish officials.
He further noted that the strategic Tehran-Damascus relations have helped reinforce the two countries as well as other regional nations in the face of foreign plots.
The senior Iranian diplomat also highlighted Tehran’s determination to further strengthen relations with Syria and help the Arab nation stand against terrorism.
Syria announced the full liberation of Aleppo on December 15, with Assad praising the victory as “history in the making and worthy of more than the word ‘congratulations’.”
The Iranian official also held a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, during which he congratulated the Syrian nation and government on the victories scored in fighting terror especially in Aleppo.
He further held talks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad, where he hailed the Aleppo liberation as a major victory achieved through the resistance of the Syrian nation and their allies against terrorism.
Jaberi described the recent Moscow meeting between Iranian, Turkish and Russian top diplomats as a positive step that could pave the way for settling the Syria conflict.
“Besides successes on the battlefield in confronting terrorism, we should take into account the humanitarian and political dimensions of the Syria crisis and adopt necessary measures in this regard,” he said.
Miqdad, for his part, said Tehran-Damascus relations have grown even beyond the strategic level.
Noting that the Aleppo victory was a historic success for Syria and its allies, he thanked the Islamic Republic for its unwavering support for the Syrian nation and government.
‘Assad’s fate not under discussion’
In another development on Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was not discussing the future of President Assad in its talks with Iran and Turkey.
After the mid-December liberation of Aleppo, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara held a round of trilateral discussions in Moscow, where the trio agreed to help find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
In a joint statement issued following the talks, the three sides welcomed concerned efforts in eastern Aleppo, which had been controlled by foreign-backed militants since 2012, allowing for voluntary evacuation of civilians and organized departure of the armed opposition.
Iran and Russia support the Syrian government in the fight against terrorism. Moscow has been providing air cover for the Syrian army’s counterterrorism operations on the ground since September 2015.
Tehran has also been offering advisory assistance to Syrian armed forces.
This is while Ankara, along with its Western and regional allies, is a staunch supporter of the militants operating to topple the Damascus government since March 2011.
Ankara and its partners have long been seeking the ouster of Assad as part of any solution to the conflict in Syria.
Calm returning to Aleppo
In the once-militant-held areas of Aleppo, an evacuation process is underway as part of a ceasefire deal mediated by Russia and Turkey. Reports say the UN-backed mission, which started last week, is now in its final stages.
According to the latest UN figures, at least 35,000 people, both civilians and armed men, have so far been transferred out of the northwestern Syrian city.
On Thursday, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said many of the evacuees had been transferred to Idlib Province.
He called for a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria to avoid another battle similar to the one in Aleppo.
De Mistura’s advisor, Jan Egeland, also hailed the evacuations, saying the operations “saved a lot of lives.”
The UN also said Thursday that it had deployed 31 observers to monitor the final stages of the Aleppo evacuation.
The deployment came days after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on dispatching a monitoring team to oversee the transfer of civilians and militants out of Aleppo.
Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency, said the Syrian government had earlier this week agreed to allow the world body to dispatch 20 observers from Damascus.
He added that the remaining monitors are from a contingent of around 100 UN staff members already on the ground in Aleppo.
Aleppo’s recapture is seen as the biggest defeat for the Takfiri militants and their foreign supporters as the city was the last major urban stronghold controlled by the Takfiri armed groups.
Russian raids taking heavy toll on terrorists
On Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow’s air raids targeting terrorists in Syria have killed 35,000 of them over the past 15 months.
“Russia’s aircraft made 18,800 sorties, delivering 71,000 strikes against the terrorists’ infrastructure while destroying “725 training camps, 405 plants … for manufacturing ammunition, [and] 1,500 pieces of military hardware,” he told a gathering of top military officials in Moscow on Thursday.
Moscow has stopped its aerial campaign in Aleppo since October to help speed up evacuations from the city. Prior to the Aleppo truce deal, the Syrian army had set up several humanitarian corridors to secure the exit of civilians and those militants who chose to lay down weapons.
Shoigu further stressed that Moscow’s aerial campaign in Syria had prevented “the breakup of the Syrian state” and broken “the chain of ‘color revolutions’ spreading across the Middle East and Africa.”