Iran has no intention to leave Syria: top official

Syrian Army

"The UAV was most likely intercepted", the military said in a statement.

A full withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria is a virtual non-starter. "We will deal with the American presence from Syria to Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and north Africa".

Russian Federation and Iran have provided critical military support to help the Assad government turn the tide of the war.

As various rebel alliances fractured and jihadi forces such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) took over, however, the US began to shift its priorities in the conflict and Russian Federation intervened in support of Assad and his Iranian ally. The meeting was focused on regional security and particularly the situation in Syria. Tehran is now believed to command up to 80,000 fighters in Syria - members of Shiite militias and paramilitary forces loyal to Iran.

Ali Akbar Velayati is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's leading adviser. Israel, for its part, has repeatedly warned of Iran's growing footprint and says it will not allow Iran or its Shiite proxies to establish a permanent presence in a postwar Syria.

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Though Iran has only a small number of forces in Syria, they've become an increasingly contentious issue because of Israel's anger.

Notably, Wednesday's alleged incident coincided with a meeting in Moscow between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Our opinion is that Iran needs to leave Syria - that's not new to you".

So what might a potential deal look like?

According to Velayati, Iran would immediately withdraw its "military advisers" from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

Comments by some USA officials have also indicated what might be an emerging compromise among the key players.

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The meeting comes at a significant time for Iran.

The Israeli military downed a suspected Syrian military drone Friday as it reportedly flew over the occupied Golan Heights in southwestern Syria, just one day after the government reclaimed a city that helped spark the country's devastating seven-year civil war.

The high-level talks precede Monday's summit in Helsinki between Mr Putin and US President Donald Trump, who are set to discuss the Iranian presence in Syria.

"We haven't had a problem with the Assad regime, for 40 years not a single bullet was sacked on the Golan Heights", the Israeli premier was quoted by Haaretz newspaper as telling reporters who accompanied him on the Moscow visit. 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.

"Iran and Russian Federation will continue to cooperate in Syria", he added.

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Velayati was apparently referring to Trump's decision in May to withdraw from Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a move that triggered the reinstatement of USA sanctions. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions.

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