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Syrian FM Says No Iranian Forces In Country

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (file photo)

Syria's foreign minister says Iranian military advisers are embedded with Syrian troops but Tehran has no combat forces or fixed bases in the country.

Walid al-Muallem told reporters on June 2 that Iran's presence is legitimate and based on an invitation of the government.

Israel has repeatedly warned against any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. Al-Muallem says Israel is making false claims to try and pressure Iran, its archrival.

In May, Israel carried out a wave of air strikes in response to what it said was an Iranian rocket attack on its positions in the occupied Golan Heights. It was the most serious confrontation between Israel and Iran to date.

Scores of Iranian soldiers have been killed in battles with insurgents in Syria, including a number of officers.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa