This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani says his country will continue to support the Syrian government as a “strategic ally” until its “final victory” in the country’s civil war.
Rohani’s website said he made the remarks on December 8 during a meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Tehran.
On the first day of his visit on December 7, Mekdad held talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
It is Mekdad’s first official visit abroad as foreign minister since he assumed his post late last month following the death of his predecessor, Wallid al-Muallem.
Along with Russia, Iran has provided crucial military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian conflict, which began with a crackdown on anti-government protesters in March 2011. More than 400,000 people have since been killed and millions displaced.
Rohani also told Mekdad that Damascus should continue confronting Israel “until the liberation of all occupied lands,” including in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
Iran and Syria do not recognize Israel, and Tehran supports anti-Israeli militant groups such as the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizballah.
Israel accuses Iran of building up its military presence in Syria and has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities, positions, as well as weapons convoys destined for Hizballah fighters in the war-torn country.