Senior Iranian officials reportedly called on the Trump administration to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying the civil war in that nation is one of the Islamic Republic’s top foreign policy priorities.

“Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday during a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Tehran, according to Reuters.

“Now 90 percent of Syrian soil is under the control of the government and the rest will soon be freed by the Syrian army,” he added, the news service noted.

The comments come after President Trump’s surprise December announcement that the Pentagon would begin withdrawing troops from Syria.

The decision sparked bipartisan backlash, fueling concerns that withdrawing from Syria could allow ISIS to regroup and leave a power vacuum for Iran and Russia, two prominent backers of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

“An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia. I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a foreign policy hawk and frequent ally of the president, said at the time.

Iran Wednesday also reportedly reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Assad in Syria.

“One of the important regional and foreign policy goals of the Islamic Republic is the stability and complete security of Syria,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Moualem, according to Reuters.

The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will be meeting in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 14 to discuss the ongoing Syrian crisis, the news service noted.

Source » thehill