July 13, 2018 / 9:19 AM / 5 months ago

Iran will leave Syria, Iraq only if Baghdad, Damascus want it, aide to Khamenei says

Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs, smiles as he listens to questions from the media during a news conference after meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the government palace in Beirut May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday that Iran would immediately withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

“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 Ali Akbar Velayati in a conference in Moscow.

Iran and Russia back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Larry King

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