US must end its military presence in Syria: Iran

TEHRAN, May 18 (MNA) – Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-e Ravanchi urged Washington to withdraw forces from Syria.

“The US must put an immediate end to its illegal military presence in parts of Syria,” he said on Friday at the meeting of UN Security Council on ‘the Middle East: Syria – Humanitarian’.

The Iranian envoy warned that continued terrorist presence in the Syrian territory is endangering civilian lives.

The meeting was held amid a recent escalation in clashes in the province after the Syrian Arab Army launched an operation to counter numerous flagrant terrorist violations of an earlier de-escalation agreement. Under the agreement, which was signed between Russia and Turkey last year, Takfiri groups in Idlib had to withdraw from areas bordering Syrian government-controlled territory, which they refused to do.

Here is the full text of his speech:

Mr. President,

I thank you for organizing this meeting.

Along with other Guarantors of the Astana Format, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to support keeping Idlib as a de-escalation area.

This approach is based on a reality and a fundamental principle: there are a large number of civilians there whose lives must be saved.

At the same time, certain questions are in order: can and should this situation continue indefinitely? Should the Government allow these internationally designated terrorist groups continue their control over its territory? Should the International community allow such terrorist groups to take a large number of civilians as their hostage?

The answer is clear: the establishment of the Idlib de-escalation area was only a temporary measure with the exclusive objective of protecting civilians, not providing terrorist groups with a safe heaven. It does not limit the right of Syrian Government to fight Security Council designated terrorists, which of course have to be carried out in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. Therefore, both, defeating terrorists and releasing civilians are necessary.

Current situation in Idlib under which the most dangerous terrorist groups are allowed to use over two million civilian as human shields, continue their control over a large part of a sovereign State’s territory, and conduct their operations therefrom attacking both military and civilian targets beyond that area cannot and must not continue definitely.

Persistence of this situation would enable terrorists to kill more civilians. This is in contradiction with the objective of the Idlib de-escalation area’s creation. We should be vigilant enough not to confuse the protection of civilians with the protection of terrorists.

Continuation of current state of affairs in Idleb would further interrupt the restoration of Government’s control over all its territory and securing the safety and security of all its citizens, prevent the return of refugees and internally displaces persons, delay the country’s reconstruction, and hamper the political solution, all of which are inherently interlinked.

In conclusion, I would like to stress once again the need for full respect by all to sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. As underlined in the Joint Statement of recent meeting of the Guarantors of the Astana Format in Nur-Sultan on 25-26 April 2019, no action, no matter by whom, should undermine these principles. In this context, the Guarantors of the Astana Format also rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism. Therefore, the US must put an immediate end to its illegal military presence in parts of Syria.

With this in mind, the Syrian Government must be assisted in the formation of the Constitutional Committee facilitated by the SRSG Pedersen, whose efforts enjoy our support. We encourage him to further strengthen its direct consultation with the Government of Syria.

As stated in the aforesaid Joint Statement, there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and the only option is to advance the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process. Ultimately, the right to determine the future of Syria belongs exclusively to Syrians themselves. We must genuinely support the realization of this objective.

I thank you, Mr. President.

MNA/PR

News Code 145368

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