Israeli Defense Minister Praises Russia's Understanding of Its Needs in Syria

The IDF's Givati brigade holds training exercises in the Golan Heights

"The only problem left in Syria is the SDF", Assad said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which spearheaded battles against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

He said Iran's support had been crucial to Mr Al Assad maintaining power in the face of widespread rebellion, whether or not they would participate in a final offensive against Deraa.

"This is the first option".

Moscow expects Washington to withdraw troops from Syria's Al-Tanf as their presence there is pointless from the military standpoint, Lavrov said, commenting on media reports about USA plans to pull troops out of the area.

We don't have any other options, with... Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. "We will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons". But large patches of territory remain beyond his control, including the expansive region north of the Euphrates River that is administered by the Syrian Kurds. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore, ' he said.

Trump announced on May 8 that the United States was pulling out of the agreement, but all other parties to it - Germany, France, Britain, China and Russian Federation - say the agreement is working as intended and want to stick by it.

Israel wants Iran-backed forces removed from areas near its frontier - and from Syria in general.

Israel has raised the alarm about Iran's expanding clout in the seven-year conflict, calling on Monday for its arch-foe to be denied any military presence in Syria.

Bashar al Assad has reacted to being called "Animal Assad" by US President Donald Trump with a phrase usually heard in school playgrounds.

"Russia is duly responsible", read the statement, "to use its diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives".

Assad reiterated the government's denial that it carried out the attack in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, saying that the government did not have chemical weapons and it would not have been in its interest to carry out such a strike. Its turn, Iran, has yet again reiterated that it has no bases in the Arab Republic, while exclusively its military advisors are present in the country in order to help the Syrian government fight terrorism.

In addition, Fathollah-Nejad said Israel is anxious about "a permanent Iranian military presence across the Israeli border".

Iran-backed Shi'ite militias, often spearheaded by Lebanon's Hezbollah, have played a critical role fighting in support of Assad.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an interview with a Greek newspaper in Damascus, Syria in this handout released May 10, 2018.

Illustrative image of Russian S-400 long-range air defense missile systems deployed at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, December 16, 2015.

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