US says some withdrawal of militants from Syria’s Idlib -pool report

Militants in Syria’s Idlib failed to meet a deadline to leave a planned buffer zone ringing the country’s last rebel bastion. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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US says some withdrawal of militants from Syria’s Idlib -pool report

  • Russia and Turkey reached a deal to set up a buffer zone running 15-20 km deep into rebel territory

ISTANBUL: There has been some withdrawal of militants from the demilitarization zone in Idlib following the Russia-Turkey deal on the northwestern Syrian region, the US special representative for Syria engagement told reporters in Ankara.
The two countries reached a deal to set up a buffer zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory and evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militants by Monday. Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a militant alliance spearheaded by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, is the most powerful militant alliance in Idlib.
“The withdrawal of heavy weapons is complete by all accounts,” James Jeffrey said. “There is some question as to whether everybody from (Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham) has left.”


Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

Updated 23 May 2019
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Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

  • The commander said they will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for their enemies
  • Tensions between Iran and US escalated after Trump restored sanctions

GENEVA: The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills,” a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.
Tensions have spiked between the two countries after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!“
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday that “There will not be any negotiations between Iran and America.”
Keyvan Khosravi was also quoted as saying by the state broadcaster that some officials from several countries have visited Iran recently, “mostly representing the United States.”
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, visited Tehran on Monday.
“Without exception, the message of the power and resistance of the Iranian nation was conveyed to them,” he said.
In Berlin, a German diplomatic source told Reuters that Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.