US wants Iran, not Russia, to leave Syria: report

'Iran must leave Syria, Russia can stay,' US says: report
2 min read
06 September, 2020
Despite expanding its military presence in Syria and the Middle East, Moscow is not facing US retribution for its support of the Assad regime.
The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign is pressuring Iran-backed fighters in Syria. [Getty]
The US State Department said Washington did not seek to end Russian military ties to Syria but was working for the removal of all Iranian-supported forces, a Newsweek report said on Saturday.

Citing a spokesperson for the State Department, Newsweek reported that the withdrawal of Russia – which supports Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria – is not on its agenda.

"Russian military forces were in Syria prior to the beginning of the Syrian Conflict in 2011, and thus we do not advocate for the removal of those forces," the spokesperson told Newsweek.

After the help of Russia's military and Iran-backed militiamen helped government forces regain control of most of the country, the US unrolled controversial sanctions against Syria's regime and its supporters.

But under US President Donald Trump's administration, the "maximum pressure" is pushing the country to take a tougher stance against Tehran than on Moscow.

"We have been very clear regarding our overall policy goals in Syria," the spokesperson told Newsweek. "The United States' policy objectives for Syria have been consistent and remain the same: the enduring defeat of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, an irreversible political solution to the Syrian conflict in line with UNSCR 2254, and the removal of all Iranian-supported forces."

Last month, Russia was granted approval by Damascus to expand its airbase in Syria's Latakia province, which will give Moscow control over more Syrian land and waters.

Read also: Syria Insight: Russia moves into Iran-controlled eastern Syria

Russia was given a permanent military presence in Syria with the allocation and expansion of the Tartous naval base and Hmeimim airbase, while Russian troops and mercenaries were deployed in Syria to fight alongside the regime.

Moscow has expanded its military presence in the Middle East in recent years including Libya, where a large contingent of Syrian fighters are also present.

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