French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian rejected on Tuesday any Iranian “axis” stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to Tehran, and demanded the departure of Iranian fighters from Syria.
In an interview with France 2 television broadcasted on Tuesday, Le Drian said: “The Iranian presence and the desire to make an axis from the Mediterranean to Tehran, (I say) no! There is a Syria that needs to exist.”
The French foreign minister said despite the amendments introduced to the French positions that followed the election of President Emmanuel Macron, and the new policy saying that Assad’s departure from power should not be a pre-condition for negotiations, Paris still considers that “Assad is not the solution” for Syria.
At the battlefield, and in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to pull out “a large section” of his forces from Syria, Moscow begun on Tuesday to partially withdraw its forces deployed in the country for the past two years.
However, the Pentagon said on Tuesday that the US had not observed any significant withdrawal following Putin’s announcement.
“There have been no meaningful reductions in combat troops following Russia’s previous announcements planned departures from Syria,” spokesperson Marine Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.
At the political level, the Syrian opposition responded on Tuesday to the regime’s attempts to disrupt the “Geneva path” by announcing it was attached to the peace talks.
The opposition also insisted on having direct talks with the regime delegation to end the crisis in the country, although the Syrian regime delegation had left a meeting with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura without any comments.
The opposition delegation also met with de Mistura on Tuesday afternoon to continue negotiations, which both sides kicked off on Monday.
After the meeting the opposition spokesman Yahya Aridi told reporters: "It is agreed that Geneva is the place for discussing any political matter and any other contribution should be pouring into the Geneva talks.
The place for a political solution is Geneva. The regime is not interested in getting involved in the political process, our priority is making Syria a safe place to come home to.”