Iran, Hezbollah preparing to withdraw from southern Syria: monitor

"So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale", he said of the April 14 airstrikes by U.S., British and French forces.

According to the United Kingdom -based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iranian and Hezbollah forces are in the process of withdrawing from the southern Syria regions of Daraa and Quneitra, adjacent to Israel's Golan Heights.

Earlier in May, U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from the 2015 worldwide nuclear accord under which world powers lifted some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its disputed atomic energy program.

Mr Assad said the USA must learn the lesson of Iraq and leave the country. We don't have any other options, with...

The U.S. joined the United Kingdom and France in airstrikes against Syria last month, following a reported chemical attack on civilians.

Iran is estimated to have thousands of advisers and fighters in Syria as well as a number of bases, which have become regular targets for Israeli attacks.

He said it was down to "the wisdom of the Russian leadership" that a confrontation did not happen.

Both the SDF and Russian-backed Syrian troops are engaged in separate operations against ISIL in east Syria, creating a highly volatile situation, where de-confliction mechanisms have already been tested several times.

"We don't have Iranian troops", Assad said. If not, we're going to resort to. liberating those areas by force. "People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore", he continued.

Trump has already said he hopes to pull U.S. troops out of Syria within a matter of months after the complete defeat of ISIS in Syria's eastern provinces.

Russian broadcaster RT asked Assad if he also had a nickname for Trump, to which the Syrian president answered: "This is not my language, so, I can not use similar language. It represents him, and I think there is a well-known principle, that what you say is what you are".

The US General comments follow Mr Assad's interview with Russia's RT where he called the SDF as the "only problem in Syria".

The Syrian leader is in the process of asserting his authority over the last few pockets of opposition-held territory after seven years of warfare during which vast areas of the country slipped out of government control.

According to Israeli sources, Russian Federation has grown increasingly frustrated with Iran's presence in Syria and is anxious that fighting between Israel and Iran threatens its hard-fought victories.

Assad also sought in his interview to minimize the extent of Iran's presence in Syria.

Assad further said Israel has from the start of the crisis in Syria been in contact with the anti-Damascus militants.

Assad said Iran's presence in Syria was limited to officers assisting the army. Syria's air defences were much stronger than before, thanks to Russian Federation, he added.

  • Tracy Klein