Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said that Tehran has not ruled out military withdrawal from Syria. In a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening, he signaled the possible withdrawal of proxies as there would be no need for foreign groups in Syria.
"That would mean there was no need for the presence of foreign troops in Syria," he said during the call, according to a statement from his office, as reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
In a similar move, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met with Bashar Assad in Sochi last month, had suggested that all foreign forces in the country should be withdrawn.
Iran, Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and Russia have been reinforcing Assad against a 7-year-old Syrian rebellion. Since 2013, Iran has increased its military presence in Syria and deployed hundreds of its special operation troops, besides militants. It is claimed that Iran has been collecting young people from poor countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India with the promise of granting citizenship. Iran has helped the Assad regime throughout the war, dispatching thousands of soldiers, mobilizing the Lebanon-based Shiite Hezbollah group and delivering millions of dollars to the regime, despite its troubled economy hurt by international sanctions. In June 2015, BasNews reported that the Iranian government had funded the Syrian regime to the tune of $6 billion since the beginning of the war.