Adviser comments on Iran’s presence in Syria

Saul Bowman
July 15, 2018

President Vladimir Putin has confirmed the spending plan, with at least three deals worth some $15 billion already on the table, Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Iran's supreme leader, said in Moscow on Friday.

"Our presence in Syria has no relation to Israel", he said.

According to The New Yorker, Israel has joined forces with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and suggested to Trump that the U.S. should offer to cancel the sanctions it imposed on Russia four years ago, following Russia's annexation of the Crimea, in exchange for Russian action to remove Iranian forces from Syria. "This coordination does not have to correspond to Israel's demands".

The two discussed the regional situation, including Syria, as well as commitment to Iran's nuclear agreement.

Gendelman said Israeli relations with Russian Federation are "very close" after what was the ninth meeting between Netanyahu and Putin in the last three years. It is not clear what specific actions Putin wants Israel to refrain from taking.

Russian Federation has been a key ally of the Syrian regime in its civil war.

Following news reports of the visit, Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral requested the arrest of Velayati.

In his briefing with reporters Thursday, Netanyahu said Israel has no intention to interfere in Syria's civil war, either for or against Assad.

Israel has been on high alert as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces advance against rebels near the Golan and Jordan. "Why would we trust them and hold negotiations with them?"

The meeting comes at a significant time for Iran.

Several Israeli news outlets reported Thursday that Russian Federation has been working to push Syria-based Iranian forces away from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

"To our friends in Israel - be very careful making agreements with Russian Federation re Syria that affect USA interests". This was in response to a question about Israel demanding a pullout of all Iranians from Syria. Tehran is now believed to command up to 80,000 fighters in Syria - all members of Shiite militias and paramilitary forces loyal to the leadership in Iran - and has effectively secured a land corridor via Iraq and Syria reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The meeting, which Velayati said was "very constructive", took place as looming United States sanctions against Iran are expected to hit the country's oil sector heavily, causing supply shortages on the oil markets in the fourth quarter.

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