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Iranian and Russian foreign ministers to discuss Syria

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Iranian and Russian foreign ministers to discuss Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif meets with Russian counterpart Lavrov in 2019
Photo: EPA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will conclude his second diplomatic tour since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic by meeting with his Russian counterpart today in Moscow.

Syria is likely to feature high on today’s agenda, with recent developments in the country having unsettled both Tehran and Moscow. Intensifying Western sanctions and an economic crisis in neighbouring Lebanon have contributed to an unprecedented economic collapse in recent weeks, giving rise to widespread protests against the Syrian government. The Iranian foreign ministry denounced the amplification of Western sanctions as an “unlawful and inhuman move”, while Russia’s foreign ministry has similarly condemned “coercive illegitimate sanctions”.

In the wake of Zarif’s visit, expect heightened tensions around Idlib, Syria’s last rebel stronghold. Seeking to stymie growing unrest, Assad and his allies may undertake a new military venture; last week Russian jets bombed Idlib for the first time since a Russia-Turkey brokered truce in March.

Moreover, Zarif’s visit to Turkey, which has thousands of troops stationed throughout Idlib, suggests that negotiations may well be underway. The status of Idlib’s M4 highway, an artery of considerable economic and strategic importance, will be the crux of any understanding.

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