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Dec 27, 2016
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Iranian Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan: We Do Not Coordinate with the U.S. in Syria. Turkey Must Withdraw from Syrian Soil. We do Not Recognize Netanyahu to Even Listen to What He Has to Say"

#5815 | 07:19
Source: Russia Today TV (Russia)

Iranian Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan said that Iran "did not and will not, coordinate with the Americans" in Syria and by no means will it cooperate with the U.S. in the future. He also stated that Turkey must withdraw from Syrian soil and if it does not, it would be considered an aggressor. In reference to Israeli PM Netanyahu's recent visit to Azerbaijan he said: "We do not recognize Netanyahu to even listen to what he has to say." With regard to the Syrian crisis, the Iranian minister said that a comprehensive ceasefire would require all parties to draw a distinction between the terrorists and the opposition that is willing to negotiate with the Syrian regime. He added that Iran does not insist on Al-Assad being the president in the future, but on his right to present his candidacy in the elections. The interview was broadcast on the Arabic-language Russia Today TV on December 27, 2016.


Hossein Dehghan: "[Aleppo] is definitely a major turning point in the fight against the terrorist groups, by the Syrian government and military. We will continue on the path, alongside the Syrian military, until all the terrorists acknowledge their defeat. As for the other movements – they should come to the Syrian-Syrian negotiations table, in order to determine the future of Syria."



Interviewer: "There is some talk about an impending agreement on a comprehensive ceasefire throughout Syria. How close are we to such an agreement?"


Hossein Dehghan: "Well, such a thing requires real guarantees. A comprehensive ceasefire agreement requires everybody to accept it. They should also accept punishing any party violating the ceasefire. ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra cannot be included in the ceasefire, and the same is true of the other militant groups. A political process should start after the ceasefire. Negotiations should start between these groups and the Syrian government. The important thing about this ceasefire is to draw a distinction between the terrorists and the opposition willing to negotiate with the Syrian government. Secondly, everybody should fight the terrorist movements, represented by ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra. Thirdly, everybody must vow to stop all political, financial, and military aid to the terrorists."




"Iran does not keep forces [in Aleppo]. The Syrian army is there and is in charge of this mission. If needed, we provide it with military consultation."




"We did not, and do not, coordinate with the Americans, and by no means will we cooperate with them. The Western coalition is a coalition merely in form. They do not really have the will to fight terrorism – neither in Iraq nor in Syria. As you recall, they bombarded the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor. We do not sense any commitment on their part to play an influential and beneficial role in actually fighting terrorism, because the terrorists were cultivated by them, and they want to keep them. Perhaps they wish to weaken them, but not to eliminate them, because the terrorists are instrumental in their attempt to bring further crisis upon the region, and upon the rest of the world.


"[The terrorists] are supported by America, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. On the ground, they are supported by Turkey. Therefore, if we in Iran, together with Russia and Syria, manage to reach an agreement with Turkey to stop the support to these groups – and especially Jabhat Al-Nusra and ISIS – and to even go so far as to fight them, I believe that we may see a better atmosphere in Syria."


Interviewer: "But Turkish Foreign Minister Meylut Cavusoglu said in a press conference following his talks in Moscow that the ceasefire in Syria should include Hizbullah, and demanded that Iran cease to support that organization, in order to guarantee [the success] of any future ceasefire in Syria. Could Tehran accept such a thing, in order to salvage any future agreement about Syria?"


Hossein Dehghan: "I think the Turks should answer an important question before making such demands: Did they enter Syria following a request by the Syrian government? Or was it a unilateral decision on their part? If this was done upon the request of the Syrian government, they should leave when the Syrian government asks them to leave. Otherwise, they should be considered aggressors, and aggressors cannot make declarations for others. Russia and Iran entered Syria upon an official request by the legitimate, elected government.


"We went there to provide support for the government, and the moment the Syrian government thinks it no longer needs our forces, there will be no excuse [for us] to stay there. Instead of evading his government's mistakes, the Turkish foreign minister should take the responsibility, and consider why they have caused all these crises in Syria. If they had not made mistakes in Syria from the very beginning, they wouldn't have found it necessary today to fix one mistake by making another."




Interviewer: "I understand from what you've said that Iran does not insist on Bashar Al-Assad remaining president of Syria in the future."


Hossein Dehghan: "No, we do not insist on that. We say that no one can deny Bashar Al-Assad the right to become a candidate in the elections. This is our position. The [Syrian] people and nobody else will decide this."


Interviewer: "Will you accept another person in the transition phase?"


Hossein Dehghan: "The people will decide this. They will or will not elect him."




"[Many people have claimed] that Iran has placed an airbase under Russia's control. This is absolutely untrue, because it contradicts our constitution. However, since we are cooperating with Russia in the fight against terrorism, we have provided Russia with some privileges, for the takeoff and landing of fighter aircraft. At any moment when we feel that this is necessary, and if Russia asks that these privileges are provided again, we will study this according to the circumstances at the time, and make our decision. At no point did we sign a contract with Russia allowing it to use our military bases. In accordance with the circumstances, and assuming that a request arrives from Russia and we see this as necessary, we will be ready to assist in this."


Interviewer: "Are there negotiations right now about this?"


Hossein Dehghan: "No."




"We do not try to achieve things that run counter to the nuclear agreement, and we do not care too much about what America says. We have capabilities allowing us to secure [the weapons] we need."




"We have advised our friends in Azerbaijan that allowing Israel to have a foothold in those areas would not serve their interests. This is something Iran will not tolerate. But this is their decision to make, in keeping with their interests."




"The president of Azerbaijan naturally wants to improve relations with us, but there are others who interfere and have influence. As for the threats made by Netanyahu – we do not recognize him to even listen to what he has to say. Empty words cost nothing. Let him say what he wants until he gets tired."


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