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June 6, 2018 10:26 am

Lebanese Official Says Iran, Hezbollah to Stay in Syria Until It Is ‘Free’

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, May 23, 2018. Photo: Lebanese Parliament / Handout via Reuters.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not withdraw from Syria until the country is “liberated” and its “territorial integrity is restored,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Iran-backed forces such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a close political ally of Berri, have been key allies alongside Russia in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war effort.

RIA interviewed Berri in Beirut.

Both the United States and Israel have demanded that Iran should entirely withdraw from Syria, and Israel has also demanded that Hezbollah should pull out.

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Assad has recovered swathes of Syria from rebels seeking to oust him, but large parts of the country remain out of his hands.

Differences between his allies Iran and Russia have grown more apparent of late as Israel presses Moscow to make sure Tehran and its allies do not entrench their military sway in the country.

Israel has carried out repeated air strikes in Syria against targets connected to Iran and Hezbollah, which it wants to keep away from its border.

Lebanon is a recipient of US military aid and follows a policy of disassociation from foreign conflicts.

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