Iran says its military advisers to remain in Syria

Continued presence of Tehran ‘advisers’ part of agreement defense agreement signed this week, despite efforts to push Iranian forces out of country

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami speaks at the Conference on International Security in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami speaks at the Conference on International Security in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s military attache to Damascus told Iranian media on Tuesday that the country’s military advisers would remain in Syria under a defense agreement signed this week.

“The continued presence of Iran’s advisers in Syria is one of the areas covered in the defensive-technical agreement between Tehran and Damascus,” said Brigadier-General Abolghasem Alinejad, according to the Fars and Tabnak news agencies.

It was announced on Monday that an agreement on security cooperation had been signed during a visit by Iran’s Defense Minister Amar Hatami.

“Support for Syria’s territorial integrity and the independence of Syrian sovereignty were also emphasized in the agreement,” Alinejad said.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to President Bashar Assad as he has fought back a seven-year uprising.

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian president Bashar Assad, right, meeting with Iran’s Defense minister Amir Hatami, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (SANA via AP)

In an interview Monday night with the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel, Hatami said the agreement included the rehabilitation of Syria’s defense industry.

“With this accord, we have paved the way for a reconstruction of the Syrian military industries,” he said.

“The most important element of the deal is the rebuilding of the Syrian armed forces and defense industries so that they can regain their full capacity.”

The “defense and technical agreement” provides for the continued “presence and participation” of Iran in Syria, added Hatami.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to Assad as he has fought back a seven-year uprising.

Since Russia military intervened on Assad’s behalf in 2015, the regime has regained much of the territory lost to rebels and jihadists in the early years of the war.

Syria’s war has left more than 350,000 people dead and displaced millions since it broke out with the brutal repression of an initially peaceful uprising in 2011.

Israel has vowed not to let Iran maintain a presence in Syria and carried out dozens of strikes in the country to stop Iran sending advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. Israel has also pushed the US and Russia to keep Iran out of Syria.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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