Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has hailed Iran as “part of the solution” to regional problems, while criticizing Western powers for creating tensions in his country.
He made the remarks during a meeting with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Damascus on Saturday afternoon.
Amir-Abdollahian arrived in the Syrian capital earlier in the day at the head of a high-level delegation and was officially welcomed by his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, at Damascus International Airport.
“We are happy that in such conditions, the Islamic Republic of Iran is part of the political solution in the region,” the Syrian president said, according to a readout of the meeting published by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
He said collective regional efforts are needed to resolve certain issues, stressing that Damascus welcomes any solution that would keep Syria away from war.
Highlighting the importance of Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Syria, Assad said a new situation was emerging that “will tilt the balance of power in the region in our favor.”
He then censured Western countries for inciting tensions in Syria with the aim of getting back at the Syrian government and gain concessions.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad called the Tehran-Damascus relationship a “strategic alliance” which has been constantly improving in the last forty years.
He also said Palestine is an issue of common concern for Iran and Syria, adding that an “alliance of wills” has been formed in the region to confront hegemonic powers.
For his part, Amir-Abdollahian agreed that Syria’s enemies are plotting to foment instability in the Arab country.
He condemned the Israeli regime’s violation of Syria’s territorial integrity, and said the silence of Western capitals, which claim to advocate human rights, exposes their double standards.
“The failure to seriously deal with the destructive and aggressive actions of the Zionist regime proves that the claim of Western countries about trying to stabilize the security in Syria is not true, and this [inaction] emboldens the racist Zionist regime to try to disrupt the situation in Syria,” he added.
He also conveyed the greetings of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi to President Assad, saying the Syrian president’s recent visit to Tehran was a turning point in bilateral relations.
Assad visited Tehran in May and held talks with Ayatollah Khamenei and Raeisi.
“During that trip, we entered a new phase of comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, including in various economic and commercial fields,” Amir-Abdollahian told journalists upon arriving in Damascus earlier on Saturday.
“Today marks a very good opportunity to discuss with my colleague Mr. Faisal Mekdad the latest state of relations between the two countries,” the top Iranian diplomat added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran strongly condemns the Israeli regime’s violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.
“Along with the sanctions imposed against the resistant people of Syria, the Zionists seek to destabilize [Syria] and increase the problems of the Syrian people,” he said.
The top Iranian diplomat pointed to Israel’s acts of aggression against Syria, including recent missile attacks in Syria’s western port city of Tartus.
“Iran condemns the Zionist aggression targeting southern Tartus this morning,” Amir-Abdollahian stated, adding that Israel tries to portray Damascus as an insecure city in order to obstruct the return of displaced people.
At least two civilians were injured following Israel’s missile attacks on Tartus on Saturday.
A military source said that Syrian air defenses were able to bring down most of the missiles fired by Israeli warplanes from the direction of Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, according to Syria’s official news agency SANA.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Amir-Abdollahian made a reference to Ankara’s threats to use force inside Syria, and said Iran understands Turkey’s security concerns, but opposes any form of military action whatsoever.
“We are making efforts to resolve the existing misunderstandings between Syria and Turkey through diplomacy and political talks,” he added.
Syria supports Iran in JCPOA talks: Mikdad
For his part, Mikdad underlined the importance of the visit, saying the two countries hold continuous and close consultations about all developments.
He expressed Syria’s support for Iran in the talks to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal, which was ditched by the US in 2018.
Former President Donald Trump reneged on the agreement in 2018 and restored harsh US sanctions on Iran. The administration of Joe Biden has expressed willingness to rejoin the deal, but failed to remove the sanctions, as stipulated in the JCPOA, and has instead added to the punitive measures in violation of the JCPOA.
Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha, in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA, with Tehran and the EU saying at the end of the talks that they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian foreign minister also said that the situation in Syria calls for more consultations between the two friendly countries, especially Israel’s repeated acts of aggression on Syrian territory, in addition to Tel Aviv’s threats launched against Iran, which aim at weakening the resistance front.