On Monday, Iran and Syria appealed to the United States pull out its troops from Syria, and the Damascus government intimidated to crush Washington’s Kurdish allies by coercion if they did not yield to the return of state authority.
The Iranian and Syrian military chiefs spoke after a meeting in Damascus that also included their Iraqi counterpart, who gave a political uplift to President Bashar al-Assad and Tehran by declaring that the Syrian border would soon be reinstated.
Their remarks point to the danger of a new acceleration in Syria after the beating of Islamic State, with Assad looking to restore the two major territories beyond his control, and the United States working to restrain Iranian influence.
Washington has promised to contain what it calls Tehran’s “destabilizing” role in the region, but the firmly established nature of Iran’s ties with both Damascus and Baghdad were on graphics display on Monday.
Standing close to his Iraqi and Syrian counterparts on live television, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri stated that the three nations were “united against terrorism” and harmonizing at a high level.
Last month, the United States stated that would keep some forces in Syria, overturning course from a previous decision to withdraw all forces once Islamic State is militarily defeated. It has expanded air power and some ground troops in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia that is close to grabbing the jihadists’ last territory in eastern Syria. It also has a military base at Tanf, near the Damascus-Baghdad highway and the Iraq and Syrian frontier.
After Washington in December declared its plan to withdraw troops, the Kurdish-led authorities managing northeast Syria unsuccessfully sought a deal with Damascus to protect their area from a potential Turkish attack. Large areas of Syria have been brought under government control through “reconciliation agreements” that have typically been considered after the military defeat of rebel forces.