Iran: Our relations with Russia are strong

Iran's foreign ministry shrugs off reported Israeli-Russian coordination on a withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria.

Tags: Russia Syria Iran
Ben Ariel ,

Putin and Rouhani
Putin and Rouhani

Iran's foreign ministry insisted Monday that Tehran's ties with Moscow are "strong" and shrugged off reported Israeli-Russian coordination on a withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria, AFP reported.

"Iran's ties with Moscow are strong and we are always in touch and consult with each other," ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as having told reporters in Tehran.

His comments follow last week’s visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir. Netanyahu stressed during the visit that Israel would "not allow the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria."

"President Putin and I also agreed on a common goal: the withdrawal of foreign forces that arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war. We agreed to establish a joint team to advance this goal, together with other elements," Netanyahu said.

Ghasemi claimed Netanyahu’s statement was just another example of Israeli "psychological" warfare.

Israeli officials "have a habit they cannot quit, and that is lying. (They are) creating a psychological atmosphere to affect Iran's relations with its neighbors and Russia," he charged.

While Iranian leaders deny that the Islamic Republic has a military presence in Syria, Iran is a key supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, having providing the regime with both financial aid and military advisers against a range of opposing forces since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Near the start of the Syrian civil war, it was reported that then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made clear last summer that Iran would withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

Ghasemi reiterated that on Monday, saying, “As long as the government of Syria wants us there, we will be there.”