The website Nour News, which is affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, denied the report published by the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, according to which Russia demanded the pro-Iranian militias to withdraw from military positions in Syria.
The spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs labeled the Israeli claims concerning strikes on Iranian military targets in Syria as “false and absurd.” He stressed that Iran maintains a presence of advisers in Syria, based on the request of the government of Syria. Meanwhile, Iranian freight flights to Syria have persisted, despite the repeated strikes on airports in Syria.
In light of the prolonged political crisis in Iraq, a member of the Majlis’ National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee stressed Iran’s support for preserving Iraq’s territorial integrity and unity.
Senior officials in Iran and Iraq conducted coordination meetings and consultations concerning the arrival to Iraq of over two million Iranian pilgrims, on the occasion of Arbaeen. On September 9, the ground border crossings connecting the two countries were shuttered due to extreme overcrowding, which endangered the lives of the pilgrims. On September 13, Iraqi sources reported that the Commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Esmail Qa’ani, arrived in Karbala to oversee the situation of the pilgrims.
The Representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran, Nasser Abu Sharif, stated in an interview to an Iranian news agency that the decision to start the last round of conflict with Israel from the Gaza Strip was taken solely by the organization, and that Iran does not intervene in the decision-making process of the “resistance groups” but only assists them.
On September 11, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs met with the Spokesman of the Ansar Allah movement (the Houthis of Yemen), Mohmmed Abdul Salam, and stressed Iran’s support for Yemen and the continuation of the ceasefire in the country.
Iranian Involvement in Syria
The website Nour News, which is affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, denied the report published on September 2 in the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, according to which Russian demanded that pro-Iranian militias retreat from military positions in central and western Syria. According to that report, the demand, which was supposedly made during a meeting between Russian officers and their Iranian counterparts at the Hama Military Airport, was intended to forestall additional Israeli strikes on Syria. In the meeting, IRGC officers were asked to clear the base of the 49th Regiment of the Syrian Army, and a military installation in the area of al-Hamidiya, south of Tartous.
The article published by Nour News stated that the report in al-Sharq al-Awsat is false, and that Russia made no such demand to the Iranian side on this matter. The article further remarked that the presence of the Iranian military advisers in Syria is based on coordination with the Syrian government, and that the strategic cooperation between Iran, Syria and Russia in the war on terror will persist. The publication of this false report, Nour News argued, was intended to give a shot in the arm to the remains of the terrorist organizations operating in Syria, present the “Zionist regime” as an influential actor in the regional political and military balances of power, and harm the potent cooperation between Syria, Russia and Iran (Nour News, September 3).
The Spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, insisted that the Israeli claims about striking Iranian military targets in Syria are false and absurd. In his weekly press conference, Kanani argued that Iran maintains a presence of military advisors in Syria in accordance with the request of the Syrian government, and that Israeli actions against Syria infrastructure are illegal and constitute a violation of international law (Fars, September 5). Meanwhile, Iranian freight flights continue to land in Syria despite the repeated strikes on airports in Syria. Sources that monitor flights in the region reported on the arrival of a Mahan Air flight, which took off from Tehran to Aleppo on September 9, a few hours after the Aleppo International Airport was brought back online, after being bombed on September 6, likely by Israel. This Iranian airline is routinely used by the IRGC. A short while after this flight, a transport plane of the Iranian Yas Air airline was spotted on its way from the Damascus International Airport to the airport in Aleppo. A day earlier, a freight plane of Mahan Air was spotted on its way from Tehran to the Damascus International Airport (flightRadar24, September 8-9).
On September 1, the Syrian Speaker of Parliament, Hammouda Sabbagh, met with the Iranian Ambassador to Damascus, Mehdi Sobhani, and discussed the ongoing Israeli strikes in Syria. Sabbagh stressed the need for continuing to tighten relations between the two countries, claiming that while the Israeli strikes on Syria intended to engender instability in the country, they will only bolster the connection of the Syrian people to their homeland, their identity, and their resistance. The Iranian ambassador expressed his confidence in Syria’s ability to fight terrorism and its backers, condemned the Israeli strikes, and asserted that they will not harm the will or determination of the Syrian people to struggle against the conspiracies [of the enemies]. He conveyed an invitation to the Syrian speaker of parliament from the Speaker of the Iranian Majlis, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, to visit Iran (Fars, September 1).
In early September, the Iranian Deputy President and Head of the Organization for Administration and Recruitment, Meysam Latifi, arrived for a visit in Damascus, and on September 5, met with the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal Mekdad. The senior Iranian official stressed the need to expand ties between the two countries in all spheres, utilizing the manpower and capabilities of both countries for the benefit of the Syrian and Iranian people. In the meeting, the two senior officials discussed ways to bolster administrative cooperation between the two countries, and implement the bilateral agreements previously concluded on this matter. The Syrian minister of foreign affairs highlighted the deep ties between the two countries in the economic and development sectors (ISNA, September 6).
In early September, the Syrian Minister of Culture, Labana Mushawah, arrived for a visit in Iran. On September 9, the minister met with the Islamic Organization for Culture and Media, Hojjat-ul-Islam Mohammad-Mehdi Imanpour. The senior Iranian official declared in the meeting that the supreme leader of Iran sees Syria as the mainstay of the “resistance” and that the Zionists forced the war on Syria as revenge for three decades of resistance of the Syrian people. Imanpour called for expanding cultural ties between Iran and Syria, including support in the media sector and expanding the teaching of the Persian language in schools and universities in Syria. He added that in the near future, Syria will host “Iranian Culture Week” and expressed willingness to host “Syrian Culture Week” in Iran. The Syrian minister of culture stated in the meeting that many of Syria’s residents speak Persian, and that over a decade ago, the University of Damascus began offering Persian language courses. She welcomed the efforts of the Iranian cultural attaché to Damascus to promote Iranian culture and Persian language in Syria (Mehr, September 9).
On September 12, the Syrian Minister of Industry, Ziyad Sabbagh, met with the Iranian Ambassador to Damascus, Mehdi Sobhani. The two discussed the economic situation in Syria, its efforts to counteract the economic sanctions imposed on it, and the efforts of the Syrian government to bolster the industrial sector. He remarked that the Syrian government is acting to create the necessary conditions for expanding cooperation between Syria’s industrial sector and friendly countries. The Iranian ambassador stressed his country’s support for Syria, and the desire to expand cooperation and partnership in the industrial sector (IRNA, September 12).
Iranian Involvement in Iraq and Yemen
In an interview with the ISNA news agency (September 3), a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, Fada Hossein Maleki, addressed the latest developments in Iraq, and claimed that while Iran wishes to maintain Iraq’s territorial integrity and unity, several other countries are striving to exacerbate the internal disagreements in Iraq. He asserted that the clashes that erupted in late August between the Sadrist Current and groups opposed to it caused Iraq severe harm, and that if the various groups in the country fail to coordinate, further problems are unavoidable.
On September 7, the First Deputy to the President of Iran, Mohammad Mokhber, spoke on the phone with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa al-Kadhimi and discussed ways to address problems relating to the arrival of Iranian pilgrims to the Shia holy sites on the occasion of Arbaeen, marking the end of the 40 days of mourning over the dead of the Shia Imam Hussein bin Ali. The Iranian deputy president asked the Iraqi prime minister to issue the necessary guidelines to facilitate the arrival of pilgrims through the border crossings linking the two countries. He stated that Iran is willing to assist Iraq in security the needs of the pilgrims due to their large number (over five million people), including by providing industrial refrigerators, drinking water and medical assistance at border crossings (Mehr, September 7). On September 9, the land border crossings between Iran and Iraq were closed due to extreme overcrowding, which endangered the lives of the pilgrims. On September 12, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Abdollahian, spoke with the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, and thanked the Iraqi government for facilitating the organization of the pilgrimage (ISNA, September 12).
On September 13, Iraq sources reported about the arrival of the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, Esmail Qa’ani, to the city of Karbala, to oversee the situation of the pilgrims flocking to the Shia holy sites (Inews-IQ.com, September 13).
On September 11, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Abdollahian, met with the Spokesman of the Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthi rebels in Yemen), Mohammed Abdulsalam, and stressed Iran’s support for Yemen and for continuing the maintain the ceasefire in the country. Abdulsalam, who heads the team of the Houthis that is negotiating with the Yemeni government, through United Nations mediation, thanked Iran for its support and provided an update to the Iranian minister of foreign affairs concerning the latest developments in Yemen (Alef, September 12).
Iranian Involvement in the Palestinian Arena
The Representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Tehran, Nasser Abu Sharif, stated in an interview to the Iranian news agency Borna News (September 11) that the decision to start the latest round of conflict with Israel in the Gaza Strip was taken exclusively by PIJ, and that Iran does not intervene in any way in the decision-making of the “resistance groups,” but only provides them with assistance. He stressed that decisions in Palestine are made based on an assessment of the current situation and conditions. Abu Sharif added that 90% of the shipments delivered from Iran to Syria reach “the resistance” and only 10% are destroyed in Israeli strikes.