American Presence in Syria Was Only a Source of Tension, Iranian Official Says

Foreign Ministry says American presence in Syria was 'wrong, illogical and a tension-maker' ■ Meanwhile, Iran's Revolutionary Guard ground force launches a drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz

American troops look out toward the border with Turkey from a small outpost near the town of Manbij, northern Syria, on February 7, 2018.
Susannah George,AP

Iran's Foreign Ministry says the U.S. military presence in Syria has damaged the region in the government's first comments on President Donald Trump's plan to pull U.S. troops from the war-torn country.

The official IRNA news agency on Saturday quoted Bahram Ghasemi, ministry spokesman, as saying the presence of U.S. troops during Syria's civil war has damaged peace and security in the region.

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Ghasemi says: "Basically, the deployment and presence of U.S. forces in the region was wrong, illogical and a tension-maker."

Iran has been a key supporter of the Syrian government. In a tweet, Trump on Wednesday announced he was pulling all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria.

Also on Saturday, Iranian State TV reported that Iran's Revolutionary Guard ground force has launched a drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.

The report said the guard's forces will use combat helicopters and drones around Qeshm Island at the mouth of the straight.

The annual war game dubbed "The Great Prophet" came a day after the USS John C. Stennis, a U.S. aircraft carrier, sailed into the Persian Gulf on Friday. The Guard's vessels trailed the Stennis and launched a drone to film the American ship.

Tehran feels increasingly under pressure after President Donald Trump in November renewed sanctions that the U.S. had lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal. The U.S. pulled out of the deal in May.