Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that it wasn’t Russia’s job to decide whether Iran has to leave Syria.
“Syria and Iran are both independent countries. They need to build their relationship on their own,” Putin said at an international policy forum in Sochi.
The Russian president said that while Russia helped negotiate the pullback of Iranian forces from the Golan Heights border with Israel over the summer, a full Iranian pullback is another matter.
Israel and the United States have demanded the withdrawal of all Iranian forces from Syria.
Putin said that the issue could be discussed between Iran, Syria and the United States, with Russia joining the dialogue.
He said Syria should be offered security guarantees by "those who want to see the Iranian forces pull out."
Russia and Iran have staunchly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, helping turn the tide of the conflict in its favor.