Iran is likely to be invited for the first time to international talks with the US and Russia over the Syrian conflict, the US says.US state department spokesman John Kirby said it was unclear if Iran’s leaders would attend the talks in Vienna later this week.Top envoys from the US, Russia, Arab and European nations are taking part.Syria’s Western-backed opposition and the US’s Gulf Arab allies have long opposed Iran’s role in the Syrian war.Mr Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that he expected Iran “to be invited to participate” in the talks in Vienna.”Whether they come or not is up to Iranian leaders,” he said. “It’s important for us that key partners are in these discussions… They [Iran] could be a key partner, but they are not now.”Separately, the US said it was prepared to intensify its campaign against IS, which is also known by the acronym ISIL. The US has been carrying out air strikes against the group in Syria and Iraq since last year.”We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” said US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Iran is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s closest ally. It is believed to have spent billions of dollars over the past four years to prop up his government, providing military advisers and subsidised weapons, as well as lines of credit and oil.It is also thought to have been influential in the decision of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement to send fighters to Syria to assist pro-Assad forces.