Iran’s presence in Syria and its relations with Damascus are not negotiable, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Iran’s Al Alam TV broadcast Wednesday.
Assad also repeated the assertion that Iran has no fixed bases in Syria, and said it is still possible to reach a settlement in the southwestern region, where Iranian-backed forces are near the border with Israel.
Israel has repeatedly warned against any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria.
Assad said contacts are “ongoing” between Russia, the United States and Israel.
But he said the relationship between Syria and Iran “will not be part of any settlement” and is “not in the international bazaar.”
There has been speculation that Iran may pull its forces back from near the Israeli border on the Golan Heights in some kind of settlement.
After regime forces captured Ghouta from rebels in April, “it was suggested that we should move south. We were faced with two options … reconciliation or liberation by force. At this point, the Russians suggested the possibility of giving reconciliation an opportunity,” Assad said.
“Up to now, there are no concrete results for a simple reason, which is Israeli and American interference; for they put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution.”