ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A top aide to Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday said Iran would only pull out its “military advisers” from Iraq and Syria at the request of those respective governments.
“Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria will continue to protect the country against terrorist groups and America’s aggression ... We will immediately leave if Iraqi and Syrian governments want it, not because of Israel and America’s pressure,” said Khamenei’s senior advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, during a conference in Moscow, according to Mayadeen Television Network.
His speech comes as the US recently called on Tehran to withdraw its military advisers from the two middle eastern countries.
Velayati mentioned that Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria does not depend on US whim and that they would not withdraw on Washington’s demand.
The senior Iranian advisor noted that if Iran and Russia were to leave the war-torn country of Syria in the current situation, terrorism would take over the country again.
“The US is seeking to divide Iraq into three parts and Syria into five,” he stated, quoted by Iranian Tasnim news agency.
Over the past few years, Iran has been supporting government-backed Shia militias in Iraq and Syria fighting against the Islamic State (IS).
Iran’s heavy involvement in the two countries is seen by the West, namely the US, as direct interference into the internal affairs of the beleaguered nations and as a destabilizing factor in the region.
Editing by Nadia Riva