Iran-Backed Hezbollah Chief Vows to Remain in Syria

Bashar Assad

"The leaders agreed with the main goal that I set, and this is formulating a broad global agreement that Iran needs to leave Syria, from all of Syria", Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "This was the goal of the trip and it was, to a large extent, achieved", Netanyahu said.

"At any rate, I made it clear that we will take aggressive action against attempts to established security threats [in Syria], and, of course, against any attack on us", he continued. "I will tell you that if the whole world comes together to force us to leave Syria, they will not be able to evict us", Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address, adding that only the Syrian leadership could ask them to leave.

Netanyahu did not mention in the cabinet meeting that each of the leaders also made clear publicly that they continue to support the Iranian nuclear agreement which Israel adamantly opposes, and which the U.S. withdrew from last month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday that his recent trip to Europe last week had resulted in "broad worldwide agreement" that Iranian forces must withdraw from Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad says the West is fueling the devastating war in his country, now in its eighth year, with the aim of toppling him.

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Brief readouts from the Kremlin and Netanyahu's office said that the two leaders discussed a "Syrian settlement" and "Iran's military entrenchment in Syria". This is calculated at avoiding further Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, according to a report published on Saturday by the Wall Street Journal.

"It's natural to have differences between the different parties, whether within our government or other governments; Russia-Syria, Syria-Iran, Iran-Russia, and within these governments, that's very natural, but at the end the only decision about what's going on in Syria and what's going to happen, it's a Syrian decision", Assad said.

Iranian officials have not denied their forces were pulling out of the region bordering Israel, but have insisted they are in Syria for the long haul.

Israel has been carrying out dozens of airstrikes in the war-torn country over the past years, saying they were aimed at Iranian sites or weapons delivery to Israel's arch-foe, the Iran-backed militia of Hezbollah.

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