Fromer Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Sheikholislam, who serves as an adviser to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, denied reports that Tehran would withdraw its forces from Syria if the situation there stabilizes.

In an Aug. 18 interview with the Iraqi Al-Nujaba TV channel, he said: “As long as the Syrian state wants us, we will remain,” adding that “as long as the Golan Heights are occupied, Syria will want us to stay, since it cannot count on anybody’s help but ours to liberate its lands from the Israeli occupation. Syria will not get Russia’s help in liberating the Golan Heights—only ours.”

The following is an excerpt:

Host: There is a lot of talk about expelling you from southern Syria, or from Syria in general. According to this information, this will take place with Russia’s consent, and within a [Russian] agreement with the Zionist entity. Some in Iran have said that Tehran is ready to withdraw from Syria, if it finds that the situation there is relatively stable. Is this true?

Advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Sheikholislam: No, no, no. We went to Syria at the request of the Syrian state. If the Syrian state—the legitimate and official state – no longer wants us, we will leave. As long as the Syrian state wants us, we will remain. Let me tell you in all honesty: As long as the Golan Heights are occupied, Syria will want us to stay, since it cannot count on anybody’s help but ours to liberate its land from the Israeli occupation. Syria will not get Russia’s help in liberating the Golan Heights—only ours.