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Damascus says Iran’s presence in Syria ‘legitimate, lawful’

The Syrian government has rejected a final communiqué issued following the 14th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Saudi city of Mecca, describing the presence of Iranian military advisors in the conflict-plagued Arab country as “legitimate and lawful.”

“Syria dismisses what was declared in the final statement of the emergency Arab summit in Saudi Arabia regarding the Iranian intervention in Syria’s affairs, and considers what is mentioned in this communiqué as an unacceptable interference in the Syrian domestic issues,” an unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Friday.

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The source added, “Syria reiterates that the Iranian presence is legitimate because it came at the request of the Syrian government and contributed to Syria’s efforts in the fight against terrorism – something confirmed by some participants in the summit.”

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“The summit was to condemn the interference of other countries in the Syrian crisis, which lacks legitimacy and is aimed at providing unlimited support to various terrorist groups and prolonging the Syrian conflict,” the source pointed out.

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Iran has been in Syria on an advisory military capacity since the conflict erupted in the country in 2011. Russia joined the battle late in 2015. The two countries intervened in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government.

Washington, which deployed troops in Syria in 2014 despite repeated criticisms by Damascus, has been critical of Iranian and Russian role in the country.

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Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

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