Iranian “advisors” have maintained a presence in southern Syria at the behest of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a special envoy for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Ansari made the remarks following a Monday meeting in Beirut with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
In a statement released after the meeting by the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, Ansari was quoted as saying: “Iran’s continued presence in Syria will be determined based on the needs of the Syrian state and with full coordination between Damascus and Tehran”.
He also referred to the issue of Lebanon’s large Syrian refugee population, which he described as “an absolute priority for us at this stage”.
Ansari added: “We will soon see the tenth phase of the Astana peace talks in the [Russian] city of Sochi with the participation of the three guarantor states [i.e., Russia, Turkey and Iran]; the UN; and representatives of both the Syrian state and opposition”.
Finding a swift political solution to Syria’s years-long crisis, he added, “will not only benefit Syria, but the entire region”.
In recent weeks, Assad regime forces have carried out a wide-ranging offensive aimed at retaking opposition-held parts of southern Syria.
After establishing control over most of the southern Daraa province, regime forces are now in the process of deploying troops along Syria’s border with Jordan.