Iran is set to withdraw its entire 2,500 member fighting force from Syria, according to a report on Sunday by Israel’s Channel 2 news.
According to the report, the majority of the forces, comprised of personnel from various units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, have already been evacuated from Syria. The rest are expected to return home imminently.
The decision was taken jointly by Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, Channel 2 said, although the report did not give a reason for the withdrawal.
Iran’s forces were deployed to Syria to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime forces over the past two years.
Iran’s forces have sustained around 160 fatalities including six senior officers, generals, and colonels, and over 300 injuries, Channel 2 reported.
Approximately 700 military advisers will remain in Syria, according to the report.
Tehran, it added, will continue to support Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian regime forces against local rebel groups.
The report comes following comments made by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Congress last week.
“The IRGC has actually pulled its troops back from Syria. Ayatollah Khamenei pulled a significant number of troops out. Their presence is actually reduced in Syria,” Kerry told Congress.
“That doesn’t mean that they’re still not engaged and active in the flow of weapons from Syria through Damascus to Lebanon,” Kerry emphasized.
“We’re concerned about that and there’s an ongoing concern.”