TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) – Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Iranian leaders in Tehran on Sunday, Iranian state-linked media reported, marking his second visit to Iran, a major war ally since Syria’s civil war in 2011. doing.
Noor News, a website of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, reported that Assad met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ibrahim Raisi earlier in the day. It said the leaders praised the strong ties between their countries and vowed to further boost the ties. Assad was reported to have left Tehran for Damascus later on Sunday.
“Everyone now sees Syria as a power,” Khamenei told Assad at the meeting, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, which is believed to be close to the country’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. “Syria’s respect and credibility is now much higher than before.”
For his part, Assad said the strong ties between Iran and Syria served as a shield against Israel’s influence in the Middle East.
“The strategic relationship between Iran and Syria is due to the lack of dominance of the Zionist regime in the region,” Noor News quoted Assad as saying.
Iranian media published photos of Assad shaking hands warmly with Khamenei and smiling next to Raisi.
Assad has rarely traveled abroad since his crackdown on Syria’s civil unrest in 2011, which led to a devastating civil war and made him a global pariah.
He has visited major protectorates of Russia and Iran, and made his first visit to the United Arab Emirates. The clearest sign by far – since the conflict earlier this year – is that the Arab world is ready to reconnect with the once widely shunned president as the Arab state blunts the growing influence of its Shia foe in Syria. want to do.
Tehran has given billions of dollars in aid to the Syrian government and sent Iran-backed fighters to war with its military – aid that, along with Russian air power, has helped turn the tide in Assad’s favor.
Tehran visit marked Assad’s first visit to Iranian capital in two years, This tour was not announced in advance.
On Sunday, police forces were deployed at major intersections and crossroads in Tehran.