Syrian President Bashar Assad Meets With Iran Supreme Leader

Syria’s Assad visits ally Iran for first time in 8 years since conflict began (VIDEO)

Syria’s Assad visits ally Iran for first time in 8 years since conflict began (VIDEO)

Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Iran and met with officials there on a rare trip overseas in which he thanked the Islamic Republic for its support throughout his country's conflict, official news agencies in Syria and Iran said on Monday.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran in this handout released by SANA on February 25, 2019.

In pictures published by Iranian and Syrian news agencies, Assad appears without a delegation of his own during his meetings with Khamenei and Rouhani. The visit was not announced beforehand, and both countries made it public late Monday.

Ayatollah Khamenei said one of the USA plans is to be actively present in Syria-Iraq border.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran as before will be alongside the people and government of Syria", Iran government's official website quoted Rouhani as saying.

Assad's visit comes amid growing calls from the USA and Israel for Iranian forces to leave Syria. The buffer zone is meant to prevent clashes between Turkey and US -backed Kurdish forces.

He also pledged that Iran would continue to stand with Syria until "terrorism" is eradicated in the country, stressing that Damascus and Tehran share deep strategic interests, the news agency said.

Syrian officials have blasted Turkey's plans for such a safe zone, saying both Turkish and USA troops are occupiers.

The Leader said the mystery behind the victory of Syria over the US and its regional mercenaries was the resistance of its president and its people.

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"Today in Syria, Kurds and tribes have good relations with the government", he said, according to Fars.

During talks, Assad expressed his gratitude to Iran for all that it has done for Syria during the almost eight-year war, the Syrian presidency said.

His office said "both sides expressed their satisfaction with the strategic levels reached between the two countries in all fields".

Iranian state media said Khamenei praised Assad as a hero who had strengthened the alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

This week's visit overseas to meet Iranian leaders is his third in total since protests against his family's decades-long rule broke out in March 2011.

The protests prompted a harsh response from Syrian security forces, which led to the emergence of an insurgency.

Efforts have so far failed to make progress toward a political settlement to end a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced about half of Syria's pre-war population of 22 million.

The visit to Iran comes a day before a trip by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russian Federation for talks expected to focus on Iran's role in Syria.

Israel, regarding Iran as its biggest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied militia, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

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