In this photo provided in 2017, Iran’s army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, and other senior officers are seen on the front line in Aleppo province. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP, File)
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When President Donald Trump meets Russia's Vladimir Putin Monday, the Syrian conflict will be one of the most immediately pressing issues on a wide-ranging agenda. As fighting wanes after seven years of war, the U.S. has made curtailing Iran's influence in postwar Syria a strategic objective – one strongly backed by Israel.Still, both Russia and the U.S. have an interest in working together in Syria and beyond, and while Russia and Iran have been on the same side of the war, their interests do not always converge.Israel, for its part, has repeatedly warned it will not allow Iran or its proxies to establish a permanent presence in postwar Syria.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week said it would be "absolutely unrealistic" to expect Iran to fully withdraw from Syria.WOULD IRAN ACCEPT A DEAL?Russia has called for Iranian troop withdrawal from a postwar Syria but cannot guarantee Iranian compliance.Iran, following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, is facing stiff sanctions and cannot afford to lose Russia's support, nor will it be able to provide Assad with the same level of support.
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