Iran’s foreign minister was in the Syrian capital yesterday to talk about closer ties between the two states and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hossein Amir Abdollahian touched down in Damascus and was welcomed by his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mikdad, and President Bashar al-Assad. During the talks, he claimed relations between their countries were the strongest they had ever been, adding: “We welcome and are satisfied with what some Arab countries are doing by normalizing relations with Syria.”
He went on to say in Arabic: “We are in the same trench, and we support Syria’s leadership, government and people.”
The Iranian foreign minister also said he believed parties involved in talks on reviving the JCPOA were close to an accord, blaming the delay without elaborating on the “unrealistic” stance of the US.
Both Tehran and Damascus have a declared allegiance to – in reality dependence on – Vladimir Putin’s Russia and officials used the visit to re-affirm their official position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In Syria, Russian military support turned the tide of the 11-year civil war in Assad’s favor.
Echoing Iranian officials’ public stance on the conflict, Mekdad said: “Russia is defending its right in protecting its people [by pushing] away the NATO presence on its direct border. Russia is defending us all.”
Amir Abdollahian’s visit also came two weeks after two IRGC colonels were killed during an Israeli bombardment of the Damascus countryside. Days later, the IRGC claimed responsibility for a barrage of 12 cruise missiles that struck near a US consulate complex in Iraqi Kurdistan, which the Guards claimed was an Israeli espionage base.