While Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, Moscow’s ambassador to Tehran has raised Kremlin’s concerns about a possible military clash between the Islamic Republic and Israel over Syria.
Alexander Lavrentiev, Putin’s special presidential envoy to Syria and a senior member of the Russian negotiating team at last Monday’s Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki, arrived in Tehran to discuss the implications of the summit for Iran’s military presence in Syria, Iranian news outlets reported.
Meanwhile, citing an interview published in Russian daily Kommersant, Jerusalem Post reported Thursday, “Moscow’s ambassador to Tehran, Levon Dzhagarian has insisted that Russia will do its best to prevent a military confrontation between Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria.”
“There have been conflicts from time to time in Syria and we are naturally concerned about the possibility of a military confrontation between the Iranian and Israeli forces there. We will do our best to prevent tensions from escalating,” Dzhagaryan affirmed.
With regard to rumors that Russia has asked Iran to leave Syria, he said “Iran is not a [small] country you can force out. Iran is a big country that pursues an independent foreign policy.”
Tehran and Moscow have been closely allied in stabilizing the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad over the past five years. Meanwhile, several human rights groups have charged both countries with participating in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, the Algemeiner reported July 18.
Last April, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, told the UN Security Council that there were up to 80,000 troops and allied Shia militia fighters in Syria under Iranian command.
Israel insists that Tehran’s presence in Syria has turned into an unbearable “rope around its neck”.
Tehran on the other hand insists that its presence in Syria is “legitimate”. Nevertheless, Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last week, “Iran is prepared to leave Syria immediately, if Damascus asks.”
However, Velayati had earlier underlined that Tehran and Moscow will keep up providing support for the Syrian government and people in their ongoing fight against what he described as the “terrorist groups” and “American aggression”.
He had also reiterated that Iran is coordinating its military presence in Syria with Moscow and Damascus.
Velayati pointed to the “resistance front” as well as Iran and Russia in their campaign against foreign-backed terrorists in Syria, and said, “They will be the winner of the ongoing conflict.”
In the meantime, deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic said Thursday, July 19, that the “Israeli regime’s negative role cannot affect Iran-Russia cooperation in fighting terrorism in Syria.”
Amir Saeid Iravani made the remarks in a meeting with Lavrentiev in Tehran on Thursday.
In the meeting, which took more than two hours, Iravani expressed his happiness with the visit of Russian president’s special envoy to Tehran, describing it as a clear sign of the commitment of the two countries to the rules of cooperation and strategic partnership.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran attaches special importance to a political solution through strengthening a Syrian-Syrian dialogue, and supports the efforts made in this regard,” local news outlets cited Irvani, as saying.
Alexander Lavrentiev, for his part, said “Russian government will continue to cooperate in the fight against terrorism until stability and security is reached in the whole Syria.”
Lavrentiev had visited Jerusalem a week before arriving in Tehran.
Cover photo: Russian Federation ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan.