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Iran Will Stay in Syria Until the Country Is Free, Politician Says as Russia and Israel Hatch Border Plan

Iran and its ally Hezbollah will stay in Syria until the country is liberated from terrorists and regains its territorial integrity, a Lebanese politician told Russian media Wednesday.

“If it had not been for Hezbollah [in Syria], Daesh [the Islamic State] would have been here [in Lebanon]," Nabih Berri, the country’s speaker of parliament, said. Berri is a close ally of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics.

The statement was made as a delegation of senior Russian officials traveled to Lebanon’s neighbor Israel, where the two countries discussed the future of Syria and a potential plan to move Iran’s militias away from the region of southern Syria that borders Israel. Both Moscow and Tehran are currently in Syria to provide military and other kinds of support to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Reports have suggested that Russia and Israel have reached a deal that would see Iranian militia fighters retreat at least 15 miles from the border.

The enmity between Israel and Iran has deepened in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a result, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been traveling around Europe to persuade its leaders to abandon the nuclear deal and support Iran’s withdrawal from Syria. Sources later told the Israeli media that the effort had been successful and that Netanyahu had garnered support for Iran’s removal from the war-torn country.

Nevertheless, most European leaders continue to support the Iran nuclear deal, which put curbs on Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for international sanctions being lifted on Iran. President Donald Trump canceled the U.S. participation in the deal in May, a move Netanyahu had vocally advocated for.

Military officials in Iran, however, have also said that the country’s militias will not leave Syria or move away from the area bordering Lebanon.

"Iran and Syria enjoy deep relations that would not be influenced by the propaganda measures of anyone,” Iran’s Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said Sunday, according to local media. 

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