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Iranian Media Refute Israel’s Claim That Tehran is Scaling Down Its Presence in Syria

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Previously, outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet commented that Iran “has begun the withdrawal process from Syria,” his uncorroborated-by-evidence statement coming in the wake of earlier reports of Israeli officials suggesting there was a scaling down of Tehran’s presence in the country.

An Iranian military source has been cited by Fars News Agency as refuting earlier statements made by outgoing Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, that Tehran was reducing its presence in Syria.

“There has been no change in the quantity and quality of Iran’s advisory presence in Syria… We will stay in Syria as long as the Syrian government needs the help of the Iranian advisers,” the well-informed military source was quoted as saying.

While emphasizing that Naftali Bennett’s allegations are “an attempt to fill his empty record of any achievement,” the source underscored that Iran’s presence in Syria was the result of an official request of the legitimate Syrian government, seeking help in combating terrorism in this country.


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In this photo released by the official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani attends a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran. File photo.

The source was also cited by Tasnim News Agency as adding that the outgoing Israeli Defense Minister’s statements “are similar to the continuing allegations of the Zionist entity regarding the implementation of successful military operations against Iranian forces in Syria or cyberattacks on various installations in Iran, which are far from reality.”

Earlier, Special Assistant to the President of the Iranian Parliament for International Affairs, Hussein Amir Abdullahian, said in an interview with Al-Alam TV on Sunday that there was “no justification for the Islamic Republic to reduce the number of its forces in Syria”, stressing that “the Americans wanted to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and topple the political system in Syria, but they failed, and today they send messages to President Assad and offer him agreements.”


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Photo : Syrian President’s press service

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Hussein Amir Abdullahian concluded by emphasizing that “the Iranian advisory presence will continue in Syria as long as the Syrian government requests that from Tehran”.

The response from the Iranian side followed a statement by outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday that Iran had started withdrawing its forces from Syria.

While not offering any evidence to corroborate his assertions, in his farewell speech, quoted by Reuters, Bennett said:

“Iran is significantly reducing the scope of its forces in Syria and even evacuating a number of bases… Though Iran has begun the withdrawal process from Syria, we need to complete the work. It’s in reach.”

 Warning that unless pressure on Tehran is preserved the trend might reverse, Naftali Bennett called upon his successor, Benny Gantz, to continue to toe the line.

Earlier in the month, US officials also weighed in on reports of a downscaling of Iranian presence in Syria.

In this photo released on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.

Special Representative on Syria James Jeffrey was cited by Newsweek as telling reporters Washington saw “some Iranian movement around Syria pulling back from areas where the Israelis have struck them” as well as “a withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias” from other countries.

There has not yet been any official response from Tehran or Syria to Bennett’s comments.

Iran, which is struggling under US economic sanctions, has repeatedly insisted its military presence in Syria is at the invitation of Bashar Assad’s government, vowing to remain in the country as long as its help is needed.

 

 

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Families of Iranian Victims in Ukrainian Airline Crash in Tehran File Lawsuits, Judiciary Says

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TEHRAN (Sputnik) – The families of Iranian victims in the January downing of a Ukraine International Airlines aircraft near Tehran have begun filing lawsuits in connection with the incident, the Judiciary Organisation of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran said in a statement Monday.

“Since the transfer of the case regarding the crash of a Ukrainian plane to the Judiciary Organisation of the Armed Forces, the Tehran military prosecutors’ office has conducted an accurate and verified investigation of the case. Several groups of experts are studying various aspects of this disaster and many families of the victims have contacted the organisation with lawsuits”, a statement published on the organisation’s website read.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba threatened Iran with “collective prosecution” if Tehran fails to come to an agreement with Kiev, as well as the other countries whose citizens were among the dead. President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously said that Iran must bring those responsible for the plane’s downing to justice and pay suitable compensation to the victims.

Ukraine International Airlines’ Kiev-bound Boeing 737-800 crashed on 8 January, soon after departing from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport. Citizens of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom were among the 176 passengers and crew who perished.

The Iranian military subsequently admitted to unintentionally shooting down the jetliner, having confused it with a hostile cruise missile in anticipation of US retaliation to Iran’s massive attack against Iraqi bases housing US military personnel. The Iranian leadership expressed deep regret, describing the tragedy as an “unforgivable mistake”.

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Tehran blasts ‘mindless’ trio of Trump, Pompeo & US Iran envoy — RT World News

A high-ranking Iranian politician has unloaded on three of the top US officials, saying their “mindless” behavior paints the US government as being dangerous for rivals, unreliable for allies and incompetent for the people.

Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council took aim at US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in a series of tweets on Friday.

“The rule of the incompetent and mindless is only a source of danger,” Shamkhani said before proceeding to call the Americans by name.

The Trump-Pompeo-Hook triangle has created an image of an American ruling class considered unreliable by its allies, a threat by its rivals and incompetent by its citizens.

Shamkhani, a rear admiral in the naval arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, didn’t explain why he singled out the three, but recent US-Iranian history provides a clue. Since he assumed office, the US president has urged that toughness be applied to Iran. He dramatically raised the stakes in 2018, when he withdrew from the “worst-ever” 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, re-imposing sweeping sanctions. He has been pursuing a “maximum pressure” policy since then.

Likewise, Pompeo spearheaded the effort to isolate and suppress Tehran both on the world stage and in the region. As for Ambassador Hook, the diplomat has recently threatened to trigger the return of all United Nations sanctions – lifted after Tehran conceded to demilitarize its nuclear program under the 2015 deal – if the UN Security Council lets an Iran arms embargo lapse in October.




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The threat elicited a sharp rebuke from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who reminded Hook that the US is no longer a member of the pact. 

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