Tehran, Iran – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Iran’s supreme leader and the country’s president during a surprise visit to Tehran, a key military backer of the Syrian regime.
Assad met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi after paying an unannounced visit to the Iranian capital on Sunday morning, then left for Damascus the same day, according to Nournews, a media outlet affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council. Iranian (SNSC).
The Supreme Leader’s website confirmed the meeting. His reading of the rare encounter quotes Khamenei telling Assad that his “victory in an international war” has boosted Syria’s credibility and that Iran wants to strengthen bilateral relations.
“Syria today is not Syria before the war, even if there was no destruction then, but now the respect and credibility of Syria is much more important and all consider it a power,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei also took aim at countries in the region that have normalized relations with Israel or held high-level meetings with its officials, saying that was when their own people were chanting anti-Zionist slogans on Quds Day.
At the time, Qassem Soleimani, the commander-in-chief of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), accompanied Assad on his visit.
Soleimani was assassinated by a US drone attack in Iraq in January 2020 under former President Donald Trump.
Iran’s positions on regional issues
At Sunday’s meeting, Iran’s supreme leader also remembered Soleimani and said his efforts in Syria were no different from those in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988. which Iran regards as a period of “holy defence”.
“This connection and this relationship is vital for both countries and we must not allow it to be weakened, but must strengthen it as much as possible,” Khamenei said.
Assad was quoted by the Supreme Leader’s website as telling Khamenei and Raisi that Iran’s stances on regional issues, particularly Palestine, over the past four decades have shown that “Iran’s path is a correct and fundamental path.
“The destruction of war can be rebuilt, but if the bases and fundamentals are destroyed, they cannot be restored,” he reportedly said.
Nearly 400,000 people have been killed in Syria’s 11-year war, according to the UN. The conflict has left large parts of Syria in ruins and displaced more than half of the country’s population, with millions forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries.
Assad also said that some believe Iran is supplying weapons to its so-called “axis of resistance” in the region, but that its most important support is to uphold and maintain the “spirit of resistance”. He added that the “strategic” ties between Iran and Syria have become the main factor preventing Israel’s dominance over the region.
Iran, with Russian military support, turned the war in favor of Assad.
In a separate meeting with Assad, the Iranian president lamented that parts of Syrian soil are still controlled by foreign forces and said “the occupation forces and their mercenaries must be expelled.”
Raisi also said that “threats from the Zionist regime in the region must also be addressed by strengthening and diversifying deterrence equations.”
He promised that strengthening ties, especially economic and trade relations with Syria, was a top priority for his administration, adding that he was also ready to cooperate more on political and security issues and to fight against the “terrorism”.
Assad was quoted by the president’s website as saying the US role in the region is weakening in the face of regional resistance.
“Experience has proven that cooperation between countries in the region on a range of issues, including Palestine, has been very effective, and Palestinian successes have shown that compromise by some Arab countries has led to opposite results. “, did he declare.
In March, the Syrian president visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – his first trip to an Arab state since the start of the Syrian war in 2011 – during which he met the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed. bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain established formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020. Several other Arab countries have followed suit.