The international community’s priority in Syria must be defeating the Islamic State terrorist group, not reforming the Syrian government, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.

Rouhani, speaking Sunday in New York, said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin share that view and added that Iran “cannot stand shoulder-to-shoulder” with any government that prioritizes political reform in Syria over counter-terrorism.

The whole of Syria will succumb to Islamic State if the Assad government is “taken out of the equation,” Rouhani said, adding that this does not mean the Syrian president’s leadership is legitimate.

The Iranian president spoke ahead of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Monday.

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