On June 13, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said during an interview with the Iranian al-Alam TV that militants in southern Syria should accept a reconciliation agreement with the government or their areas will be liberated by force. Assad also stressed that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) should be deployed in southern Syria, as it is the only legal force in the country.
“To put it simply, after the liberation of al-Ghouta, it was suggested that we should move south. We were faced with two options, as is the case in all other areas in Syria: reconciliation or liberation by force,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted Assad as saying during the interview.
Furthermore, the Syrian President revealed that Damascus government and Russia are currently negotiating with the militants in southern Syria to reach a peaceful agreement. However, the US and Israel are pressuring the militants to reject such a solution, according to Assad.
“Up till now, there are no concrete results for a simple reason which is Israeli and American interference; for they put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution. That is how the situation stands now,” Assad said.
When asked about a possible withdrawal of US troops from the town of al-Tanaf near the Syrian-Iraqi border, Assad confirmed that the US has agreed on this step, but he noted that he does not trust the US administration.
“The Americans say they are ready, but everyone knows that the Americans are historically professional liars in politics. So why should we believe them? Also, we have to wait and see,” Assad noted.
Earlier this month, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said during a press briefing that Syria will not approve any agreement on southern Syria until US forces withdraw from the al-Tanaf base.
The statements of Muallem and Assad confirm that a US withdrawal from al-Tanaf will be a key part of any agreement on southern Syria. Such a withdrawal will be a huge blow to the hopes of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).