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Why Iran still doesn’t trust Russia on Syria

Despite its close collaboration with Russia in Syria, Iranian political and military officials are growing increasingly suspicious about Moscow's intentions and long-term strategy.

TEHRAN, Iran — On June 10, Iran hosted the defense ministers of Russia and Syria at its own Defense Ministry. The stated aim was to exchange views and discuss the “war on terror.” This time, unlike previous such gatherings, it was Iran and not Russia that formed the political axis of the discussions. During the talks in Tehran, the three defense ministers confirmed their respective governments’ determination to “continue military operations until terrorism is rooted out,” especially in Syria.

The Iranian defense minister, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, expressed Tehran’s determination to continue to provide military aid to the Syrian government. At the same time, he noted Iran’s concern regarding the possibility of the Islamic State gaining access to nuclear weapons. He also commented on the temporary cease-fires in Syria, especially in Aleppo, saying, “We agree to a guaranteed cease-fire that does not lead to terrorists building up their powers.” Dehghan was referring to a May 7 attack in which members of the anti-Assad coalition Jaish al-Fatah attacked the village of Khan Tuman south of Aleppo, killing 13 Iranian officers and taking several more captive. More importantly, members of the Iranian Green Berets, who were also present on this front, suffered serious loses and had to retreat from their positions. The May 7 incident was the biggest attack on Iranian forces in the country so far, and Iran suffered its greatest human losses since it became involved in the war in Syria.

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