by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday, marking the first time an Iranian president has visited Syria since the civil war took over the country in 2011, the Associated Press reports. Raisi’s meeting with Assad was part of a two-day visit to boost economic and political cooperation between Iran and Syria.
The Iranian regime has long supported Assad, sending thousands of Iran-backed militants to fight for him in the war. With Russia, Iran helped Assad regain control of much of the territory in Syria he had lost, AP notes.
Monday’s meeting between the two Presidents follows overtures to Syria by regional powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose foreign ministers visited Damascus in recent weeks. Syria’s foreign minister also visited Saudi Arabia in April, the first time a Syrian official was invited to Riyadh since diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 2012 on account of Assad’s conduct in the war.
During a recent interview with pan-Arab television channel Al-Mayadeen, Raisi called for the reconstruction of Syria and for its refugees to return, AP reports.
“Syria’s government and people have gone through great hardship,” Syrian state media quoted Raisi telling Assad during thei meeting. “Today, we can now say that you have overcome all these problems and were victorious despite the threats and sanctions imposed against you.”
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