U.S. special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey (R) attends a meeting at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2018. Xu Jinquan/Pool via REUTERS
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The removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power is not a part of U.S. policy in Syria, but Iran-backed forces leaving the country entirely is a priority, the U.S. envoy to Syria said Wednesday.Tehran's critical support has helped regime forces regain control over vast swaths of territory once held by opposition groups, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran will stay in Syria for as long as Assad wants it there.The envoy added that he hoped Russia would continue to allow Israel to strike Iranian targets in Syria, despite Moscow's delivery of an S-300 air defense system to Assad's government last month. Russia's intervention in the Syrian conflict in 2015 and continued support in the way of airstrikes is seen as having tipped the war in Assad's favor.
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