Iran to Stay in Syria Despite Russian Call to Withdraw

May 23, 2018

On May 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for foreign forces to withdraw from Syria at a press conference with Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Russia's envoy to Syria clarified Putin's comments the next day, saying they applied to Turkish, U.S., Iranian, and Hezbollah forces. The Russian statement seemed to expose a disagreement between Moscow and Tehran. For years, Iran and Russia have cooperated in their efforts to bolster the Syrian regime against rebels and extremist groups. "No one can force Iran to do anything," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said in response. The following are remarks from Syrian, Iranian and Russian officials. 

 

Russia

President Vladimir Putin

We proceed from the assumption that in view of the significant victories and success achieved by the Syrian Army in its fight against terrorism, and the start of a more active phrase of the political process, foreign armed forces will be withdrawing from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

May 17, 2018, in a statement with Syrian President Bashar al Assad following Russian-Syrian talks

 

Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev

“This statement involves all foreign troops in Syria, including the Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah.”

May 18, 2018, according to the Times of Israel

 

Iran

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi

“No one can force Iran to do anything.”

“As long as terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants, Iran will have presence (in the Arab country).”

“Those who have entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian government should leave.”

May 21, 2018, to reporters, according to Tasnim News Agency

 

Syria

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad

“Whether Iranian forces or Hezbollah withdraw or stay in Syria is not up for discussion because it’s the (business) of the Syrian government.”

“This is our decision and the decision of our friends.”

“After ending the direct terrorist danger to Damascus, the door is open to heading north or south.”

May 23, 2018, according to al Mayadeen TV, via Mehr News Agency