Damascus hopes not to use force on Idlib, but retains the right – Syrian FM

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The Russian S-300 air defense system is a “timely step,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview on Tuesday.

He stressed that the S-300 air defense systems to be provided by Moscow would be sufficient to respond to Israel’s threats against Syria.

“Anyway, the S-300 will be sufficient to respond to these threats,” the minister said, answering a question about the Israeli threats caused by the Iranian presence in Syria.

The chancellor also stated that the Iranian military is legally on Syrian territory as military advisers.

“The Syrian-Iranian relationship is not a bargaining chip,” Muallem said. “These relations are based on a decision by two sovereign states that defend their independent decision.”

He said Damascus hoped he would not have to use force in Idlib province, but that it had every right to do so.

“We would like to see the implementation of this agreement [on the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Idlib] and that the problem be solved through peaceful means or national reconciliation. However, the State has the legitimate right to use other means to establish its power. But we do not want to go that far,” Muallem said.

“It is a defensive system in its essence and not offensive, designed to defend the Syrian skies… I want to say that it is a very timely step and we thank Russia for its efforts,” he said.

Muallem also warned that the Syrian people do not accept separatism. According to him, in the Syrian regions where Kurdish citizens live, there is no mention of secession. However, the United States urges Kurds to act outside the legal framework.

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“The United States has arrived in this region without approval from the Syrian authorities, and so its presence here is illegal. They began to illegally establish their military bases. The problem is aggravated not by the Kurds, but by the US presence, which gives the Kurds hope to work outside the legal framework of Damascus,” he explained.

As for the negotiations between Damascus and the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its start was successful, but they were cut short because of the US, which increased its military support to the Kurds.

“This attack was completely unjustified and unacceptable, and those who carried it out must pay for it,” he said.

The Syrian minister also admitted that Western countries create obstacles to the return of refugees to Syria.

According to him, the West fears the Syrian refugees, stating that if they return, their lives and assets will be in danger.

“These declarations are absolutely unfounded. I declare: after the return, security, stability and prosperity in the future [are guaranteed to refugees],” Muallem said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on September 24 that it would be willing to deliver Syrian anti-aircraft defense systems to Syria.

The move comes a week after the downing of a Russian Il-20 in Syria, caused, according to Moscow, by the actions of Israeli fighters, which put the Russian airplane under fire of the Syrian air defense.

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