Return of Stability to Syria, Iraq Rings Alarm Bells in Israel

A map of Syria shows the various areas under the influence or control of different countries and groups. In northern Syria in Idlib is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Along the Syrian border Turkey and its allies control a corridor stretching to the Euphrates river

Since Iran and Russian Federation reached an agreement in the summer of 2015 to coordinate a military campaign to save the regime of Syria's dictator, that war has held together an unholy alliance of those three states.

Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the joint staff, said during a press conference on Thursday: "Any interested party in Syria should understand that attacking US Forces or our coalition partners will be a bad policy". However, neither Jerusalem, nor Moscow, publicly acknowledged any agreement between the sides regarding Iran's military presence in Syria.

The Syrian foreign minister also said that the government seeks to resolve all the existing issues, primarily through negotiations and dialog, adding, however, that, should the diplomatic efforts fail, Damascus would likely be forced to use other means. "We see there is a gap between Iranian and Russian interests, and Netanyahu has been explaining that", Abrams said.

"Any interested party in Syria should understand that attacking US forces or our coalition partners will be a bad policy", Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters Thursday. This comes as Russia's United Nations envoy tells reporters about Moscow's agreement with Tel Aviv on the withdrawal of Iranian forces from southern Syria. On May 10, a day after Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, Iran and Israel exchanged strikes, with Israel hitting major Iranian infrastructure inside Syria.

USA forces are based in a southern desert pocket further east at Tanf, a strategic highway border crossing with Iraq.

In May, head of the Syrian government delegation to the Astana peace talks Bashar Jaafari called the U.S. military presence in al-Tanf and nearby Rukban refugee camp in the south of the country as "pure aggression and occupation".

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Last month, Washington warned Damascus it would take "firm" action if the regime violated a ceasefire deal for southern Syria that was negotiated with Russian Federation and Jordan past year. The area between the southern province of Daraa and the Golan Heights has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between Israel and Iran, and the United States has warned it will take action to protect a cease-fire there.

Syria's foreign minister says Iranian military advisers are embedded with Syrian troops but Tehran has no combat forces or fixed bases in the country.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told Shargh daily in interview published Saturday that the emergence of Takfiri terrorism and bloodshed in the Middle East gave Israel "incredible golden years of security".

"We strongly support Russian efforts to drive terrorists out of the Syria-Jordan border and to bring the area under Syrian army control", he added. Israel, which is alarmed by what it claims is a growing Iranian military presence in Syria, has recently destroyed dozens of military sites that it claimed were occupied and used by Iranian forces and Hizbullah militias.

The problem with discussions about Iran's involvement in Syria and promises that it should withdraw or reduce its presence, is that the Syrian regime denies Iran is even present in Syria in any significant way.

Mroue reported from Beirut.

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