Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, told journalists on Friday that concerned parties have reached an agreement on the withdrawal of Iranian troops from southwestern Syria.
"I heard this news, [from] the press and elsewhere, about an agreement reached on a certain disengagement in the southwest of Syria…. My understanding is that the agreement was reached. [As to] whether it has been implemented by now, as of now, I cannot answer. But I understand that the parties that were involved in reaching the agreement are satisfied with what they have reached, "he said in response to a question whether an agreement was reached with Israel and Iran on the withdrawal of Iranian units from areas in southwest Syria.
According to Nebenzia, even if the agreement is not implemented at this point, it will be done in the near future.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman held talks on Thursday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoygu amid rumors of a forthcoming return of Syrian government troops to the southwest of the country, including the border with the Jewish state. Israeli media claim that Israel agreed to allow the Syrian army up to its border in exchange for guarantees that Iranian forces and satellite forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have no presence there. At the same time Assad said in an interview with RT new agency that there are no Iranian troops in Syria, only advisers.
The southern regions of Syria, which are adjacent to Israel and Jordan, are part of the de-escalation zone established in 2017 by agreement between Russia, the United States and Jordan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that only government troops should be present there with an "eventual" withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces. According to Lavrov, the Russian side is now working on this issue with Jordanian and American counterparts.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel will not be satisfied with the departure of Iranians from the border zone, and will continue to seek the full withdrawal of their forces from the neighboring state. Increasingly relying on military force to solve this task, Israel is interested in mutual understanding with Russia, whose aviation and air defense have been present in Syria since 2015.