Al-Moallem: Syria is a sovereign state and it will cooperate with whoever it wants to fight terrorism

Damascus, SANA – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said on Saturday that Syria will liberate every inch of its territory from terrorism and foreign presence.

Speaking at a press conference, al-Moallem said that Syria is a sovereign state and it will cooperate with whoever it wishes in fighting terrorism.

He added that the Iran’s advisory presence is legitimate and based on an invitation by the government, unlike the illegal presence of the US which must withdraw from Syrian territory.

Al-Moallem said that since 2011, Iran has stood by Syria in its fight against terrorism, thanking the Iranian people and leadership for their help.
He noted that since the beginning of the conspiracy against Syria, Iran has provided support in the war against terrorism, which is backed and financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Minister stressed that Iran has no military presence and no military bases on the Syrian territories; rather there are Iranian advisers who work by the side of the Syrian Arab Army, some of whom have been martyred.
He stressed that all the allegations to the contrary are Israeli narratives that are nothing but lies.

Al-Moallem pointed out that a list containing the names of members in the committee for discussing the current constitution was sent to Russia and Iran which are guarantor states of the Astana process, and after that it was sent to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

He said that was published by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper regarding the aforementioned list was leaked by de Mistura or his office, and this can only be described as impolite, because he does not have the right to give the list to the media.

Al-Moallem affirmed that the mission of de Mistura is restricted to facilitating the discussions which will be held in the framework of the committee for discussing the constitution, and nothing more.

The Minister said that the Syrian government has sent 50 names, and whatever the number of members that will be decided upon, the Syrian state should have the majority, and the committee’s decisions must be unanimous.

Al-Moallem clarified that the mission of the committee is to discuss the current constitution, as was decided at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that was held in Sochi.

“We consider that our current constitution for 2012 is the best in region. Nevertheless, we will give the opportunity to other side to express their views,” he said.

The Minister added that if the committee reaches an agreement on amending some articles of the constitution, they will submit a recommendation to the Sochi Congress, which will approve and submit it to the Syrian government to follow the constitutional procedures.

Al-Moallem added that the location of the committee’s meeting has not been agreed upon yet, adding that the location isn’t as important as how objective the other will be in dealing with this matter.

With regard to what was raised about law no. 10 and the accusations that it aims to confiscate the property of the refugees, al-Moallem stressed that article no. 15 of the Syrian constitution prohibits confiscating any property if it is not for the public benefit.

He said that law no. 10 is a necessity after liberating Ghouta from terrorism, because the terrorist organizations have burnt the properties’ records and manipulated the ownership of properties and real-estate, and these properties should be organized in order to return the rights to their owners.

Regarding the talk about demographic replacement, al-Moallem said that these allegations are made whenever a new area is liberated, and all such claims are baseless and are part of the propaganda campaigns against Syria.

The Minister said that owners can prove their ownership of a property with ease within 48 hours if they are in Syria, and if they are abroad, they can assign a relative of up to the 4th degree to do it on their behalf.

Regarding the letter from the Lebanese Foreign Ministry on law no. 10 and its relation to the displaced Syrians, al-Moallem said that the issue of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon was used as part of the political campaigns during the recent elections there, and every politician in Lebanon has contributed to this matter.

The Minister said he will send tomorrow with the Syrian Ambassador in Beirut a response to the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to clarify the points in law no. 10 that he is concerned about, adding “no need to worry, we are the most keen on returning our citizens to their homeland wherever they are, not only in Lebanon.”

Do not believe any statements on an agreement about the south of Syria unless the US withdraws its forces from al-Tanf area, and they must withdraw their forces; this is Syrian territory and the Syrian sovereignty over it is not in question,” he said.

“There is no bargaining; this is our land. Is there anyone who would bargain over their land and sovereignty?” the Minister added.

Al-Moallem said that the Israeli occupation is the one that promoted the issue of the Iranian presence in the south, and in fact the Israeli occupation is the one that breached the disengagement agreement signed in 1974 by backing terrorist groups to set up a security belt, and when the occupation failed to do that, it began calling for the return of the UNDOF and talking about Iranian forces leaving.
On the remaining hotbeds of terrorists in the south of Syria, the Minister said that the Syrian Armed Forces dropped fliers calling on armed groups to either hand over their weapons and stay if they are from the area, or leave to other areas.

He stressed that the Syrian government has always started by resorting to reconciliations, and if they don’t succeed in the south of Syria, the state will work to liberate every inch of Syrian territory, whether from terrorism or from foreign presence.

“We consider Turkey to be an enemy and an invader. Neither Turkey nor the US have the right to negotiate regarding the Syrian cities; we will liberate every inch of our land,” al-Moallem said, adding that any US-Turkish or US-French agreement is a transgression upon Syrian sovereignty.

Regarding dealing with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Minister pointed out that President Bashar al-Assad was clear when he said recently that there are two options; either to negotiate or resort to military action.

“Frankly, we haven’t started negotiations. We still haven’t tried the first option. We will try the first option and then we will see. The communication is there, but we have not started to negotiate about the future. We still consider them Syrian citizens who care about their country, as we do,” he added.

He said that the signs of renewed life in Damascus must prevail in all Syrian cities, including Raqqa, which must be liberated and rebuilt.

The Minister expressed optimism about the great achievements made in the war on terrorism by liberating Ghouta and vast areas in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, and that will be reflected on the livelihood of citizens soon by providing them with the basic needs, not to mention reducing the cost for the purchase of wheat and investments in the field of oil and gas.

He added that there are plans by the Syrian government that will pay off, but not immediately.

Al-Moallem noted that throughout the seven years of war, the Syrian state provided citizens’ needs, and the state is working hard to improve the social situation.

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