Iran sees Russia's withdrawal from Syria as "positive sign"

 16 Mar 2016 - 9:40

Iran sees Russia's withdrawal from Syria as
File picture of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the foreign ministry in Madrid. Reuters/Andrea Comas


DUBAI: Iran's foreign minister has called Russia's decision to withdraw its forces from Syria "a positive sign" that indicates a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebels could be sustained.

President Vladimir Putin made a surprise announcement on Monday that most Russian forces would be withdrawn from Syria after deploying in September to bolster President Bashar al-Assad. A steady stream of warplanes has flown home since then.

"The fact that Russia announced they are withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don't see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran's Press TV during a visit to Australia on Tuesday.

"That in and of itself could be a positive sign. We have to wait and see," he added.

The Syrian government and the Western-backed opposition are holding U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva as part of a diplomatic push launched with U.S.-Russian support to end the conflict. Iran supports Assad in the five-year-old conflict.