Says will 'take firm, appropriate measures' against Syria violations

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Assad in Tartus mosque for end-of-Ramadan prayer

Syrian President Bashar Assad says Iran's presence in Syria and its relations with Damascus are not negotiable and repeated the assertion that Iran has no fixed bases in Syria.

"We are giving the political process a chance".

With the backing of Russian air force and Iranian-backed militias, Assad's forces have recovered large swathes of land from the opposition.

Iranian and Russian support has been critical to Assad's war effort, but Israel is pressing Russia to make sure Iran and its allies including Lebanon's Hezbollah do not entrench their military sway in the country.

Assad has rarely appeared in public outside Damascus since Syria's conflict broke out more than six years ago.

Regime forces recaptured Ghouta after a ferocious offensive that displaced tens of thousands.

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Moscow has used its veto at the UN Security Council 12 times to shield the Syrian regime from accountability after using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.

"The Syrian-Iranian relationship is a strategic relationship, not subject to settlement in the south or in the north...and Syria and Iran will not place this relationship in the worldwide political bazaar to be bargained", Assad told Al-Alam's Ali Mortadah.

On Thursday, Netanyahu admitted that Israel had been carrying out aggressive moves within Syrian borders, including attacks on Hezbollah and Iranian advisors, in order to prevent an alleged holy war from reigniting in the region.

Last month announced unprecedented strikes on what it said were Tehran-operated bases in Syria.

A couple weeks ago, an aide to the US Secretary of State initiated a proposal during a meeting with Russian, Jordanian and Turkish officials that suggested the dismantling of an American military base on the Syria-Iraq border in exchange for Iranian withdrawal from southern Syria.

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