Assad: No Iran Bases in Syria, Premature to Talk of Hizbullah Withdrawal
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that it is “premature” to talk about the possibility of Hizbullah's withdrawal from Syria.
“Hizbullah is an essential element in this war and the battle is long and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time,” Assad told Iran's al-Alam TV when asked whether Damascus has asked Hizbullah to pull its forces out of the country.
He added: “When Hizbullah, Iran or other forces consider that terrorism has been eradicated, they will tell us that they want to return to their country, because as the Sayyed (Hassan Nasrallah) said, they have families and daily interests and this is the normal thing but it is premature to talk about this issue.”
Separately, Assad denied the presence of Iranian military bases or regular Iranian soldiers in his country while acknowledging that there are Iranian officers who are leading “groups of Iranian volunteers.”
“Should we find, in coordination with the Iranians, that there is a need for the presence of Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate, but the Iranian support in its current form is sufficient and effective,” the Syrian leader added.
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had announced Friday that the “entire world” cannot force his group to withdraw its fighters from Syria.
Nasrallah noted however that Hizbullah would pull out its militants at the Syrian government's request.