Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Syria on Wednesday at the head of a high-ranking delegation in an effort to boost economic and political cooperation between the countries.
Syrian Economy Minister Samer al-Khalil welcomed Raisi at the airport. The two-day visit is the first by an Iranian president to Syria since 2010.
“This visit will be in the way of developing and expanding Iranian-Syrian relations. The groups created by the Americans, such as the Islamic State and the like, lead to bloodshed and incite chaos in the region,” said Raisi.
“The resistance factions, the Syrian people and [Syrian President Bashar] Assad proved that they are standing firm in the face of these attacks. What the resistance and Hezbollah and the Iranian advisers did, and especially the martyr [Quds Force commander Qassem] Soleimani, [is] played an extraordinary role in maintaining the security of the region,” he added.
In his meeting with Assad, Raisi said, “Syria’s government and people have gone through great hardship. Today, we can now say that you have overcome all these problems and were victorious despite the threats and sanctions imposed against you.”
The Islamic Republic backed Assad’s regime during the Syrian Civil War that erupted in March 2011 and saw vast tracts of the country taken over by Islamist groups.
Tehran sent military advisers and thousands of Iran-backed fighters from around the Middle East, including members of Hezbollah from Lebanon, to fight on Assad’s side.
Israel views with concern Iranian entrenchment in Syria. The Israel Air Force has carried out hundreds of air strikes over the years to reduce Tehran’s military presence there and to prevent the formation of a land bridge of Iranian control from developing along Israel’s northern border.
The most recent airstrike attributed to Israel took place late Monday. One Syrian soldier was killed in a strike on Aleppo International Airport, according to Syrian media.
On Tuesday, Raisi warned Israel not to take action against his country, saying that it was no match for the Islamic Republic.