The Russian Hmeimim airbase announced in a statement posted on its Facebook page that “Iranian forces and Hezbollah should withdraw from southern Syria, or else Syrian regime forces would not be provided with any support from Russian forces in the upcoming battle in the province of Daraa.”
The statement added: “We have fears of losing this battle in the absence of Russian launchers, which helped Syrian regime forces win several battles.”
During the weekend, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani denied that any Iranian forces were present in southern Syria.
Earlier, Moscow and Tel Aviv held advanced talks concerning Syria after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met in Russia with Avigdor Lieberman, his Israeli counterpart, while President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Syria in a phone call.
Political sources in Tel Aviv said the advanced Russian-Israeli talks led to an understanding to keep Assad’s forces and to allow their deployment at the border with Israel, in exchange for the withdrawal of Iranian fighters from Syria.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday he discussed with his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, the roadmap for northern Syria’s Manbij and the conflict in Syria.
The roadmap stipulates the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) group from the northern Syrian city and the establishment of a local council responsible for municipal services, taking ethnic distribution of the population into consideration.
Separately, reports said an explosion hit a military base of US-led Coalition troops in northern Syria’s Ain Issa town on Sunday night. However, Washington’s allies later denied the reports.