Russia: We can’t force Iran out of Syria

Russia: We can’t force Iran out of Syria
Russia cannot compel Iranian militias to quit Syria, Moscow’s ambassador to Tel Aviv said on Monday (July 30), rebuffing Israel’s long-standing demand that it should work to ensure their total withdrawal from the country.

Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov said Moscow could equally do nothing to prevent Israeli military strikes against Iranian militias in Syria.

Viktorov told Israel’s Channel 10 television in an interview that only Assad army troops should be deployed there, Reuters reported.

“They are playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate . That is why, for this period of time, we see as non-realistic any demands to expel any foreign troops from the entirety of Syria,” Viktorov said defending the Iranians’ presence in Syria.

“We can talk with our Iranian partners very frankly and openly, trying to persuade them to do or not to do something,” he said. But asked whether Russia can force Iran out, he answered: “We cannot.”

Viktorov expressed disapproval of the attacks on Syria, but added: “We cannot dictate to Israel how to proceed ... It is not up to Russia to give Israel freedom to do anything, or to prohibit Israel to do anything.”

A military hotline Israel and Russia set up in 2015 has also helped to the countries avoid inadvertently clashing over Syria.

Israel has carried out scores of air strikes against suspected emplacements or arms transfers by Iranian or Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in Syria, apparently unimpeded by the Russian defense systems deployed there.

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