Iranian official said that his country cannot be forced out of Syria, days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that foreign forces must withdraw from the country.
"No one can force Iran to do this. As long as there is terrorism and the government of Syria wants it, Iran will have a presence [in Syria]. Those who entered the country without the permission of the Syrian authorities must leave," representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Bahram Kasemi stated as quoted by Tasnim.
The announcement was made in wake of the statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad on May 17 when he declared that foreign military forces should withdraw from Syria after terrorist groups have been defeated.
As Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained later, a number of foreign armed forces, currently present in Syria, can leave the country at the beginning of the political process since they have no legal basis to stay there.
The Russian president's special representative for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said that all foreign forces should leave Syria, including troops of the United States, Turkey and Hezbollah, noting, however, that Russian troops are deployed there with Damascus' consent.