Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gives a speech Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Canberra, Australia. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)
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Iran's foreign minister has called Russia's decision to withdraw its forces from Syria "a positive sign", while a senior security official said the move was pre-planned and not a surprise to Tehran.President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced Monday that most Russian forces would be withdrawn from Syria after deploying in September to bolster President Bashar Assad. "Russia's pullout from Syria was pre-planned and coordinated, and not unexpected at all," Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.He said the fight in Syria was not yet over and Iranian and Russian military advisers would continue helping Damascus in the fight against "terrorist groups", a term Tehran uses for all opposition forces as well as ISIS.
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