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Iranian military advisors in Syria at request of Damascus government: Berri

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says the Islamic Republic of Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Arabic service of the Russian Sputnik news agency on Wednesday, Berri pointed out that Iranian military advisors are in Syria, just like Russian servicemen, to help government forces speed up their gains on various fronts against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terror groups.

He then slammed calls for the withdrawal of Iranian advisors and fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement from Syria, stressing that they will pull out of the conflict-plagued Arab country once the entire Syrian soil is liberated and its territorial integrity is restored.

The top Lebanese official also noted that Daesh terrorists would have been roaming across Lebanon in case Hezbollah had not confronted them in neighboring Syria.

“There are currently some 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon. We do not consider them as strangers. Lebanon and Syria have been and still are like twins. Therefore, whatever happens in Syria will affect Lebanon. Any division of Syria is a re-mapping of the (Middle East) region,” Berri pointed out.

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Iran has no military presence or bases in his country but Iranian military advisors are there to help Damascus fight terrorist groups.

“[There is] no Iranian military presence on the Syrian territories; rather there are advisors who work by the side of the Syrian Arab Army,” Muallem said during a press briefing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on June 2.

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on June 2, 2018 shows Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem giving a press conference in the capital Damascus.

Muallem said the presence of Iranian military advisors in Syria was legitimate and based on an invitation by the Syrian government and they coordinated their activities with Damascus.

The Syrian foreign minister further thanked Iran for helping Syria in the ongoing war against foreign-backed militant groups.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, Iran has supported Syria in the war against terrorism backed and financed regionally and internationally,” he said.

The top Syrian diplomat further rejected Israeli claims that Iran had military bases in the Arab country, saying that the Tel Aviv regime made such propaganda in an effort to try and pressure Iran.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

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