Iran will leave Syria, Iraq only if Baghdad, Damascus want it: Velayati

Middle East expert and author Joel Rosenberg

Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, talked with Iranian television to discuss his latest trip to Russian Federation to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

"We co-ordinate the Iranian presence in Syria with Russian Federation and Syria", Mr Velayati said during a meeting at Moscow's Valdai Club discussion platform.

In March, two months before Trump announced his plan to renew sanctions against Iran, Russia expected three deals with Tehran by the end of that month.

Top Iranian aide Ali Akbar Velayati, giving a conference in Russian Federation on Friday, ruled out the possibility of an immediate withdrawal of its military from Iraq and Syria.

Iranian supreme leader Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Our opinion is known that Iran needs to leave Syria", Netanyahu said after that meeting. "We, of course, are coordinating our positions with Russian Federation and Syria", TASS cited him as saying.

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

Israel's campaign to remove Iranian forces from Syria entirely, not just on the shared border, may be close to a turning point following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting this week with Russia President Vladimir Putin, days before his meeting in Helsinki with US President Donald Trump.

The Iranian advisor went on to criticize US President Donald Trump, saying that "the world is under the influence of a person's actions which are in contrast with worldwide laws", stressing the importance of strengthening Iranian-Russian cooperation under current circumstances.

Russian Federation and Iran have provided critical military support to help the Assad government turn the tide of the war. After years of ruinous civil war, Iran and its proxy militias, including the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, have built up a formidable presence stretching from the Iraqi border through central Syria to Lebanon.

Following news reports of the visit, Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral requested the arrest of Velayati.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday that Velayati's visit was part of efforts to make Iran's stance clear after the United States pullout from the JCPOA signed between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.

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