Top official says Tehran has no intention of leaving Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at No

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior envoy to Iran's leader says Tehran has no intention of leaving Syria despite U.S. and Israeli pressure.

The statement from Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, follows his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It comes days before Monday's summit in Helsinki between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, where the issue of the Iranian presence in Syria is set to top the agenda.

Both the U.S. and Israel want Iran to pull out of Syria. But Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

A possible deal could see Syrian troops replacing Iranian forces and its proxy Hezbollah militia in the areas near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.