Russia has demanded Iran remove its troops and militias from areas in western Syria to prevent further airstrikes from neighboring Israel, according to a report by Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Citing a source allegedly close to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, the newspaper reported that during a meeting on Wednesday between three Russian officials and their Iranian counterparts at the Hama military airport, Moscow “demands that the Iranians evacuate their military positions near the city”. Hama and the coastal town of Tartous.
In recent years, Israel has regularly launched airstrikes against Iranian militias and positions in the country, especially in the west and southwest. According to Tel Aviv, the attacks are an attempt to contain Iranian influence and prevent a land corridor stretching from Iraq to Lebanon that could be used by Iran and its militias.
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The Israeli actions have caused increasing problems for the Syrian regime and its own troops, who are sometimes affected by the attacks. Civilian infrastructure has also been affected, including international airports in the capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo.
So far, however, there have been few to no reports of increased friction between the Syrian armed forces and their Iranian allies and affiliated militias, which have assisted the Assad regime during the ongoing decade-long civil war.
Moscow’s demand on Tehran — if it turns out to be true — could further point to rising tensions between Russian and Iranian forces in Syria, who have often battled for dominance and influence in the country over the past decade.
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