Iran’s FM in Syria discusses Ukraine war, relations with Arabs

The Iranian foreign minister has arrived in Damascus, where he will discuss bilateral relations and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with top officials.

Faisal Mekdad spoke to reporters at Damascus airport shortly after his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir-Abdullahian, arrived for talks with top Syrian officials.

Iran is a strong ally of President Bashar al-Assad and has sent thousands of pro-Iranian fighters from the region to bolster Syrian government forces against the opposition in the 11-year-old Syrian conflict. Russia has also backed Assad militarily, turning the tide of the war in his favor. The war in Syria has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half of the country’s 23 million pre-war population.

“Today we will discuss huge developments following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine,” Mekdad said. “We will discuss what is behind it and we will discuss our mutual position on these developments.”

During his visit, the emir is also expected to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s negotiations with the world power to restore Tehran’s nuclear deal, Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates last week, the first Arab visit to Syria since the war began. Meeting of the Constitutional Committee between the Syrian government and the opposition in Geneva.

Amir-Abdullahian said in Persian that the strategic relationship between Iran and Syria is their best. He later made a rare remark in Arabic, saying: “We are on the same page and we support the Syrian leadership, government and people.”

Like Iran, Russia is a strong ally of Syria and joined the war in 2015, which helped Assad’s forces regain most of the country’s control. Russia has hundreds of Russian troops stationed in Syria and an air base on the Mediterranean coast.

Before the nuclear talks almost ended earlier this month, Moscow demanded that its trade with Iran be exempted from Western sanctions on Ukraine, disrupting the process. The negotiators have not yet reunited in the Austrian capital, and it is unclear what obstacles lie ahead.

The visit comes two weeks after two members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed in an Israeli attack near the capital, Damascus.

A few days later, Iran claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck near a large US consulate complex in northern Iraq, saying it was in retaliation for repeated Israeli attacks on Syria. The Revolutionary Guards said it had fired 12 cruise missiles, describing it as a “strategic base” for the Israeli spy agency Mossad, a claim denied by Iraqi officials.

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