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Hezbollah and Iran ‘to stay in Syria until it is liberated’

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Iran and the Hezbollah movement will not leave Syria until it is “fully liberated from terrorists”, the Lebanese parliamentary speaker said.

Speaking to Russian media outlet Sputnik, Nabih Berri said that Hezbollah’s presence in Syria had stopped the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) from reaching Lebanon.

“If it had not been for Hezbollah there [in Syria], Daesh would have been here [in Lebanon],” Berri said, referring to ISIL by its Arabic acronym.

Berri also said that Iranian troops and Russian forces were in Syria at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the United States deployed its own troops without seeking the Syrian government’s permision.

He said that Hezbollah and Iran will not withdraw from Syria until its “territorial integrity” is regained.

Berri called for negotiations to take place between the countries involved in the Syrian conflict, stressing the need for a political solution.

“I believe that without negotiations between Russia, the United States, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and at least one European country…it is impossible to resolve the Syrian crisis,.

“Political solution cannot be reached without agreement between these parties,” he said.

He dismissed talk of France asking Lebanon to mediate in organising talks between regional countries on Syria.

“Lebanon does not play any role in this topic,” Berri said. “It of course can benefit from the settlement in Syria, but it cannot impose this decision.”

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