Syria facing ‘new wave’ of US intervention, Iran’s Zarif says

Press TV- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Syria is facing a “new wave” of US intervention, where Washington is still pursuing geoeconomic interests in the Arab country.

“Unfortunately we see a new wave of foreign intervention and occupation particularly by the US, driven by an obsession,” Zarif told a conference in Moscow on Monday.

“If we look at the attack by the US against the Syrian forces on February 7, we see some profiting, a short-sighted geoeconomic interest to capture territory,” he added.

The attack on Syrian troops and their allies happened in the eastern Dayr al-Zawr Province, with a US official claiming that more than 100 pro-government forces were killed in the assault.

Washington said it launched the assault after Syrian forces attacked the headquarters of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which includes Kurdish militants.

Last month, Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin in a bid to eliminate US-backed Kurdish militants.

Iran’s top diplomat on Monday warned that the use of proxies by the US is dangerous for the region.

“We believe that the anxiety of our Turkish neighbors about the US designs in the region are understandable, but this is not the way to address those anxiety… Incursions in others’ territories is not the way to address the problems,” Zarif said.

“The problem in Afrin can best be resolved through lawful and legitimate sources that we have, through the Syrian government,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the Valdai Discussion Club’s conference in Moscow, Feb. 19, 2018. (Photo by IRNA)

No Iranian military bases in Syria

Zarif also emphasized that his country has no military bases or military presence in Syria.

The foreign minister referred to the Israeli airstrike that hit Syria earlier this month, calling for an end to the Israeli “aggression”.

“What happened in Syria on Saturday [February 10]? Israel violated Syria’s airspace several times. It should be noted that Israel is permanently bombing Syria. And Syrian forces had managed to down an Israeli aircraft for the first time,” Zarif said.

The Syrian military shot down at least one Israeli F-16 on February 10. Over the past few years, the Israeli military has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil, in assaults slammed by Syria as attempts to boost the terror groups.

‘Iran, Saudi could work to stabilize region’

Zarif further did not rule out the possibility that Iran and Saudi Arabia could work together to stabilize and rebuild the region.

“There is nothing that prevents Iran and Saudi Arabia from working together for the improvement of the situation not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain and elsewhere. We can actually work together as a source of stability and development,” he said.

Russia urges US ‘not to play with fire’ in Syria

Speaking during the same conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concerns over US plans to divide Syria, urging Washington “not to play with fire” in the Arab country.

“Such concerns arise after studying the plans which the US is starting to implement on soil, chiefly east of the Euphrates, on the vast territories between this river and Syria’s borders with Iraq and Turkey,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend the Valdai Discussion Club’s conference in Moscow, Feb. 19, 2018.

“I once again call on our American colleagues not to play with fire and measure their steps proceeding not from immediate needs of today’s political environment, but rather from long-term interests of the Syrian people and of all peoples of this region,” Lavrov said.

He called US actions in Syria provocative, saying the Americans “involved the units of the Kurdish Democratic Union party in their position to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity, in fact, which led to an escalation of tensions with Turkey, and you know what is now going on in Afrin.”

Lavrov said US claims that its only objective in Syria was the war on terror contradicted its real deeds in the country.

Washington, he said, is not interested in fighting the Takfiri terror group of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front or al-Qaeda’s Syria branch.

“We have more and more evidence, which makes it possible to doubt that our Western counterparts in the US-led coalition are ready to fight Jabhat al-Nusra [Nusra Front] in earnest, despite the fact that it has been added to all resolutions and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council,” he said.

Syria: US presence, Turkey intervention hinder solution

Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, stressed that the US presence in Syria as well as the Turkish offensive hinder efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis and a full victory in the war on terror.

“The Turkish regime has helped terrorists to enter Syria,” she said, adding Ankara “violated the international laws” and interfered in northern Syria after it realized that the Takfiri militants have failed.

She hailed the role of Russia and Iran in finding a solution to the Syrian conflict, saying the US and other European countries on the contrary seek to dominate Syria in order to serve their interests in the region and protect the Israeli regime.