Iran's acting Foreign Minister discusses Gaza with Syria's President Assad in Damascus

Top Iranian diplomat and Syrian President discussed need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and delivery of humanitarian aid without conditions

Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, left, meets Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus. AFP
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Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani met Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus on Tuesday and discussed the Israel-Gaza war with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

Mr Kani arrived in Syria after a visit to Beirut on Monday in his first trip abroad since becoming Iran's acting top diplomat following the deaths of his predecessor and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

He also met Palestinian factions at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, as his predecessor had. Iran backs Palestinian armed groups including Hamas, which launched the October 7 attack on Israeli territory that began the Gaza conflict.

During their meeting, Mr Al Assad and Mr Kani discussed “the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as regional an international issues of common concern”, the Syian presidency said.

Mr Al Assad stressed that “resistance against occupation in all forms will remain a main principle and a strategic choice”, the presidency said.

He said that the “Zionist entity is getting more bloody against the Palestinian people as it is becoming closer to defeat in the face of the steadfastness of the resistance”.

At a joint press conference alongside Mr Mekdad, Mr Kani said the pair had discussed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid without conditions.

In his day-long visit to Beirut, Mr Kani met the Lebanese Foreign Minister, other Lebanese officials and Hassan Nasrallah, the head of armed group Hezbollah, which is the spearhead of Iran's network in the region.

Mr Kani discussed “proposed solutions” for ending the Gaza war with Mr Nasrallah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group said.

The two men “reviewed the latest regional political and security developments, especially on the Gaza and Lebanon fronts, and the proposed solutions,” Hezbollah said.

His visit to Lebanon came as Hezbollah and Israel engage in daily cross-border exchanges of fire in south Lebanon, which have gradually increased in intensity and scope.

It also comes amid efforts to find peace in south Lebanon and to delineate the contiguous land border there with Israel.

Mr Al Assad met Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran last week to offer condolences for the death of Mr Raisi.

While Israel and Iran have long fought a shadow war of killings and sabotage, Iran's armed allies across the Middle East have formed a so-called “Axis of Resistance” alliance, which comprises Palestinian militant group Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, the Houthis in Yemen, and Iraq-based armed groups.

Iran and Israel came to the brink of war in mid-April when Tehran launched a barrage of rockets and missiles at Israel, most of which were intercepted.

Iran has said it had no advance knowledge of Hamas's October 7 attacks but has since praised the operation.

Mr Kani was appointed to the job after Hossein Amirabdollahian was killed in a helicopter crash last month in Iran.

He was previously deputy foreign minister and served as Iran's lead nuclear negotiator in indirect talks with the US.

Mr Amirabdollahian last visited Beirut in February.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 2:23 PM