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Iran and Russia divided over future of Syria

Putin an Iranian president Rouhani meet in Turkey. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned last week that all foreign forces would ultimately have to leave Syria — and his foreign ministry hastened to clarify that this specifically included Iranian troops and their proxies in Hezbollah. Tehran promptly reminded the world that “no one can tell us to leave Syria.”

Why it matters: Russia and Iran have both backed Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, and their support is a major reason he’s clung to power through seven years of war. But as the Syrian conflict grinds down, the post-war winds might begin to blow against Iran.