Iran Military Vows Post-ISIS Support for ‘Syrian Brothers’

Iran will continue to stand beside its Syrian ally after the war and will help Damascus combat terrorism, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has emphasized to his Syrian counterpart Fahd Jassem al-Freij.

“Iran is determined to stay beside its Syrian brothers in the post-war era,” Hatami told Freij in a phone call, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.

Freij acknowledged Iran’s support to “foil terrorist-Zionist groups’ plots,” IRNA reported, adding that Iran has backed the Syrian government in its defense of its sovereignty.

“The invaluable coordination between Iran and Syria guarantees stability and security of the two countries and the region,” he said.

Syria’s state-run news agency had no immediate readout of their phone call. Iranian leaders have blamed the United States and “the Zionists” for attempting to break up northern Syria.

“We will witness in the near future the advancement of government and popular forces in Syria and east of the Euphrates, and the liberation of Raqqa city,” Ali Akbar Velayati said, according to Reuters.

Damascus, in the seventh year of a civil war and combatting ISIS in the country, has largely left the Kurds alone though it has called the Rojava administration “illegal,” the Kurdish media network Rudaw reports. The foreign minister, however, in September indicated that Damascus would be open to discussions about the formation of an autonomous region within Syria’s borders, but only after the war.

Tehran, an ally of Damascus, has condemned what it sees as a wider American-Zionist plot to destabilize the Middle East through the support of Kurdish aspirations.

“The breakup of the region is a serious threat and the U.S. is taking advantage of the leverage of Kurds in Iraq and Syria to fulfill this objective and the Zionists are after Balkanizing the region,” said Iranian Parliament’s General Director of International Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday.

The accusation is similar to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s claims that the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in Iraq was “treason and a Zionism plot.”

The United States has backed the Kurds in both countries in the war against ISIS but has not supported Kurdish bids for further autonomy in Syria or Iraq. The Americans opposed the latter’s independence vote. The U.S. is concerned that Tehran is looking to build a so-called Shi’ite Crescent connecting Iran with Lebanon via Iraq and Syria.

In the meantime, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey are solidifying their unity against the Kurdistan Region, threatening joint action to shut down the Region’s oil exports in reaction to Kurdistan’s independence referendum, according to the Turkish president.

“In the case of northern Iraq, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey will form a tripartite mechanism and will decide on shutting down the oil,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on a return flight on Thursday after a visit to Tehran, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Iraq has cemented military ties with both of the Kurdistan Region’s neighbors – Iran and Turkey – in the wake of the vote. Iraqi forces have conducted joint military drills with both nations in sight of Kurdistan Region borders in the days before and after the vote. In his visit to Tehran, Erdogan discussed the Kurdistan Region with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

In a joint Turkish-Iranian statement after the meetings, the two nations expressed their support for Baghdad and told Kurdish authorities to “avoid actions that would damage the constitutional system as well as the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.”