Iran’s Revolutionary Guard along with Hezbollah operatives have recently begun deploying along the Syrian-Jordanian border, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday.
A Jordanian soldier stands guard on the Jordan-Syrian border [Archive] – Photo: Reuters
According to the report, the Iranian force deployed near the border, which mostly arrived directly from Iran, comprises between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers. The Hezbollah fighters, meanwhile, arrived from the military training camps established by the Revolutionary Guard in southern Lebanon near the border with Syria.
Jordan, worried about the Revolutionary Guard concentration on its border, dispatched Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to Tehran in recent days, Al-Hayat reported.
Jordanian security officials said Judeh conveyed an unequivocal message to the Iranians, saying the Hashemite kingdom sees Tehran’s troop deployment in a negative light.
According to the report, Judeh demanded clarifications on the troop build-up and told his hosts that their move could undermine regional stability and even spark a military confrontation between the Jordanian army and Iranian forces, if Jordan’s defense establishment concludes the deployment poses a threat to the kingdom’s security.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that only Syrians can decide his future — apparently dismissing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that Washington would be willing to talk with Assad to help broker a political resolution to the country’s civil war.
Asked about Kerry’s statement regarding potential talks with the Syrian government, Assad said, “We are still hearing statements and have to wait for actions. Then we will decide.” He added that any “talk about the future of the Syrian president is for Syrian people alone.”
Assad said Damascus was not concerned about comments made from abroad, describing them as “bubbles that disappear after some time.”
The Syrian leader spoke to Iranian TV after a meeting with visiting Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia. Tehran is one of Assad’s closest allies and strongest backers in his battle against rebels trying to remove him from power.
Kerry said in an interview with CBS News that the U.S. is pushing for Assad to seriously discuss a transition strategy to help end the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people since it started four years ago.
Some in the Middle East saw Kerry’s statement as a shift in America’s policy on Syria after President Barack Obama’s repeated calls for Assad to step down. Damascus has long accused Washington and its allies of militarizing Syria’s conflict.
The foreign minister of Turkey, another U.S. ally, also reacted sharply to Kerry’s comments, and reiterated Ankara’s position that Assad must go.
“What can you negotiate with a regime that has killed more than 200,000 people and used chemical weapons?” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit Monday to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “What result have you achieved from past negotiations?”
The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement Monday that “bringing down the head of the regime and all officials responsible for crimes against the Syrian people are a main goal of the coalition.”
Assad said that international overtures are positive “if they are sincere.” He added that such a move should start with “ceasing political support to terrorists, stop financing them and stop sending weapons.”
He said that pressure should be exerted on European countries and regional states who give “logistical, financial and military support to terrorists and then we can say that the change has become real.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=24201