The United States offered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw its troops from in exchange for Iran’s withdrawal of its forces from southern Syria, according to a report in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar.
According to the report, the Americans also demanded that U.S. energy companies be allowed to operate in the oil fields in eastern Syria. In addition, they demanded Assad’s intelligence information on terrorists in Syrian territory who may be operating in Western countries. Officials in Damascus rejected the proposal.
According to the Lebanese news website report, last July a delegation of U.S. intelligence officials secretly arrived in Damascus to meet with the director of the National Security Office, Ali Mamlouk. During the four-hour meeting, the senior Syrian official told the Americans that Damascus considers its troops in the country to be an “occupation” force.
Mamlouk also rejected Washington’s demand that Iran withdraw its forces from Syria, saying that his country is part of a broad axis and that Damascus’ position on Tehran is clear. “The U.S. proposal will not change our position on our allies,” he said.
With regard to the request for intelligence coordination and the transfer of information on terrorists from Damascus, Malouk said there will be no such coordination until there is stability in political relations between Syria and the United States.
There has been no official U.S. confirmation of the report, which appears to contradict reports by senior U.S. officials that the White House is pressing for a full withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.
Israel calls for the withdrawal of all Iranian troops from Syria, while viewing the presence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces from the territory of the neighboring Arab country as a serious threat to its security.