Syria’s Assad, Iranian Supreme Leader meet in Tehran, say ties strong


DUBAI: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a close ally, in Tehran on Thursday to offer condolences for the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s Student News Network (SNN) reported.

Raisi died when his helicopter crashed on May 19 near the Azerbaijan border.

Khamenei and Assad met last in 2022 in Tehran, during which both sides called for stronger relations.

On Thursday, Assad and Khamenei said ties were strong, according to a statement by the Syrian presidency.

Assad was able to turn the tide of Syria’s civil war, which erupted from mass pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, with crucial help from Iran’s proxy militias and Russia’s military intervention in 2015.

Israel, whose existence is not recognised by the Islamic Republic, has mounted frequent attacks on what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia have deployed over the past decade to support Assad in Syria’s