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Source: Iranintl

Aug 31, 2023

Iran’s Top Diplomat Tells US Forces In Mideast To ‘Go Home’

Author: Iran International Newsroom

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on US forces in Syria “to return home” and leave the region to its “own people” during a visit to Damascus.

The Iranian foreign minister began a two-day visit to Syria, its close ally on Wednesday and will probably travel on to Lebanon to meet with the leadership of Hezbollah, its proxy militant group.

Unconfirmed reports earlier this month spoke of movements by US forces in Iraq and Syria possibly aimed at plugging holes on the Syrian-Iraqi border that allow Tehran to send weapons and fighters through Iraq into Syria.

Despite denials by Iraqi armed forces and the prime minister’s office, three unnamed Iraqi officials, including a leader of an armed faction stationed in northwestern Iraq, told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the US was repositioning its troops in the region, possibly preparing for a military operation outside Iraq.

Another Iraqi government official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the alleged movements “are limited to locations outside the Iraqi border.”

Amir-Abdollahian’s call for US troops to leave the region was in response to a question during the press conference about these reports. “No party is capable of blocking historic transportation routes,” he retorted.

American army vehicles drive north of Manbij city, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria March 9, 2017.

Amir-Abdollahian also condemned Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria and warned that these attacks would eventually face retaliation.

“I would like to strongly condemn the miserable attacks of the fake Israeli entity against Aleppo international airport and civilian areas in Syria and I confirm that the criminal practices by the Zionist entity in the region will not remain without retaliation.”

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations. Often the strikes target Iranian-backed armed groups and concentrations of Iranian weapons transferred to Syria.

Tehran has militarily and financially backed Bashar al-Assad’s government since 2011 when the Syrian civil war erupted. It has deployed its own military personnel, the Lebanese Hezbollah and thousands of militias from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan to provide the manpower Assad lacked to fight against opponents.

Regarding Amir-Abdollahian’s possible visit to Hezbollah in Lebanon, a Tehran-based analyst close to the regime told ILNA news website that Iran’s renewed ties with Saudi Arabia is a topic of interest to the militant group.

Massoud Assadollahi said that Hezbollah needs to coordinate its policies with Tehran amid media reports that the Islamic Republic might “abandon” its allies in the region as a concession to Riyadh. It is important for Hezbollah not to be affected by “psychological warfare,” he underlined.

The Iranian pundit also pointed out that this is a critical time for Hezbollah amid heightened tensions with Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threatsagainst militant Palestinian and Hezbollah leaders.

The Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Beirut would enhance mutual understanding with Hezbollah in face-to-face discussions, he argued, and added that when Amir-Abdollahian travelled to Saudi Arabia earlier in August, an Iranian foreign ministry official also visited the Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

Assadollahi also linked the foreign minister’s trip to Syria to his earlier travel to Saudi Arabia. “After some time elapsed from Amir-Abdollahian’s trip to Saudi Arabia, he travelled to Syria to inform the leaders of that country about the latest developments…” including the release of Iran’s frozen funds by the United States.

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