Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is set to visit Damascus this week in the first official such visit by an Iranian president since 2010.
Raisi’s planned visit to President Bashar al-Assad, the first since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, was confirmed by the Syrian Al-Watan newspaper, citing “informed sources.”
During the two-day visit the two men are expected to discuss enhanced strategic cooperation between Iran and Syria, “especially in the economic field,” Reuters reported, quoting Al-Watan.
In addition, the Iranian leader is expected to attend an event in celebration of @the resistance front’s triumph,” according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
Iranian involvement in day-to-day Syrian affairs is deepening, as evidenced in last week’s discussions by the “Syrian-Iranian Joint Economic Committee,” reported by Al-Watan.
Syria’s Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Muhammad Samer Khalil, and Iran’s Minister of Roads and Cities Construction, Mehrdad Bazarbash reached agreement on free zones and small and medium-sized enterprises, according to Al-Watan, and prepared memorandums of understanding on economic cooperation between the two countries for signatures during Raisi’s upcoming visit, according to the report.
Assad visited Tehran twice since the start of Syria’s civil war, according to A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Iran has continued to supply Syria with advanced weapons, thousands of military advisers and armed foreign militia fighters, which have been deployed to Iranian and Syrian military bases across the country.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iranian militias continue to reinforce Tehran’s military power and presence across Israel’s northern border with the delivery of howitzers and Grad rocket launchers on four-wheel drive vehicles in the eastern area of Deir al-Zour.
The spread of Iranian militias has increased tensions not only with Israel, but also with the United States and the international coalition engaged in fighting the Islamic State terrorist group in eastern Syria.