Top official says Tehran has no intention of leaving Syria

Israel strikes Syrian posts after drone incursion

"After Mr. Trump's strategic mistake in unilaterally withdrawing, the Islamic Republic of Iran chose to send special envoys to different countries conveying the message of high officials of Iran containing our stances, positions, and approaches towards this arrogant and illegal move of the US", Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in describing the Wednesday visit of Velayati to Moscow.

Any agreement is likely to be general in nature, and discussions are likely to be centered more on limiting Iran's presence rather than ending it, analysts say.

Israel has reportedly carried out several deadly airstrikes against Iranian and Iran-backed targets in Syria. "We will deal with the American presence from Syria to Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and north Africa".

Israel has been on high alert as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces advance against rebels near the Golan and Jordan.

In a statement on Thursday, the Kremlin said the meeting between Putin and Velayati focused on regional security, particularly the situation in Syria, and the USA withdrawal from the 2015 global nuclear deal.

The Iranian leader, however seemed to suggest otherwise, promising that the U.S. presence in Syria would eventually be removed.

Ali Akbar Velayati is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's leading adviser.

A Syrian drone was shot down on Wednesday by Israeli army with Patriot missile after it travelled for approximately 10 km into Israel.

Velayati also referred to the details of his talks with Putin on the Syrian crisis, denying the existence of differences in regional cooperation between the two countries.

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He pointed to the trip of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Moscow and repetition of his baseless and unfounded claims against Iran, and said, "the development trend of amicable ties between Iran and Russian Federation is reciprocal and will not be affected by the intervention of other countries especially Zionist regime".

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met a delegation from Iran headed by Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In his view, if Russian Federation and Iran withdraw from Syria, "terrorists will come there".

Comments by some USA officials have also indicated what might be an emerging compromise.

"There are possibilities for doing a larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria and back into Iran, which would be a significant step forward", Bolton said in the CBS interview.

Israel has pressed hard for the removal of Iranian and Hezbollah forces, especially as the Syrian government has reclaimed territory close to the Israeli border along the Golan Heights.

For that to happen, Israel would request guarantees that Assad honor a decades-old agreement that sets out a demilitarized zone along the frontier and limits the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers of the zone.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Velayati highlighted a plot hatched by the US to disintegrate Iraq and Syria and said, "The US is seeking to divide Iraq into three parts and Syria to five". "We will help Syria counter the United States aggression".

"A public deal that accepts Assad in return for limiting Iranian influence implicitly if not explicitly gives him some legitimacy", Kamel said. The $750 million deal between Zarubezhneft and Iran's privately owned Dana Energy aims to raise production at the Aban and West Paydar fields, which now produce a combined 36,000 b/d. "Only a strategic and long-term relationship (with Russia) can continue this cooperation", said Velayati, who was also due to meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow.



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