Iran has no intention to leave Syria, top official says

Syrian Army

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MOSCOW - Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Friday that Tehran coordinates positions on its military presence in Syria with Moscow and Damascus.

"USA must maintain presence in Syria to ensure ISIS doesn't come back and to counter Russia/Iran influence", Graham tweeted early Thursday.

Israel worries Assad could let his Iranian allies entrench near its lines or that Syrian forces may defy a 1974 Golan demilitarization.

Mr Velayati argued that Iran along with Russian Federation helped stem fighting in Syria and prevented the country from falling to ISIS and other militants.

Iran, a close ally of the two countries, has supported their legitimate governments in their campaign against foreign-backed militancy and terrorism.

"The process of developing relations between Iran and Russia is not one-sided and therefore, the irrelevant, meaningless and interventionist claims made by Netanyahu do not affect Iran-Russia relations", Velayati said.

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The Israeli army has launched multiple air strikes against Iranian and pro-Iranian targets in Syria, while an American official said that the Israeli army has carried out an attack targeting the site of an Iraqi armed group in eastern Syria on June 17.

A day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Mr Putin that Israel wants Iran to leave Syria.

"A public deal that accepts Assad in return for limiting Iranian influence implicitly if not explicitly gives him some legitimacy", Kamel said. Tehran has invested a lot of money and blood establishing itself in Syria, which it views as a strategic and existential lifeline to its proxy Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. However, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 10 that Washington would consider requests from some countries to be exempted from sanctions it will put in effect in November 4.

Velayati is in Russian Federation as a special adviser to President Hassan Rouhani and will travel to China on Friday, so the same request has also been made to Chinese authorities, the foreign ministry said in a statement. "Russian Federation is prepared to invest in Iran's oil sector", the adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, told Iranian state television from Moscow.

Gendelman said Israeli relations with Russian Federation are "very close" after what was the ninth meeting between Netanyahu and Putin in the last three years.

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