An Iranian official said a visit by the Syrian President was a secret message to Washington that the embattled leader would never break ties with Tehran.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a special adviser to the speaker of the Iranian parliament on international affairs, told Iran’s Mehr news agency that Bashar Al Assad’s visit spoke with “a loud voice” against the White House’s calls for the Syrian president to push Iran out of Syria.
“The Syrian president’s visit to Tehran bore a hidden yet great message,” Mr Amir-Abdollahian said. “The meeting of Bashar Assad with the leader and the president of our country at this time was carried out with several goals.”
Mr Al Assad met Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani separately on Monday evening, marking the first time he has visited the Islamic Republic since Tehran deployed ground forces to bolster the Syrian army in the country’s years-long civil war.
He said that the goals, including to mark the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, was to thank Tehran for its support in the Syrian war. Mr Al Assad also said, however, that the main aim was to show that the “the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, beside their allies, would guard the ‘Axis of Resistance’”.
The so-called axis is made up of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as Tehran’s other proxies.
The Syrian president has rolled back gains made by rebel and hard-line groups with the overwhelming help of Iran, its proxies such as Hezbollah, and Russian air power and ground force.
The regime has managed to recapture much of the country and, other than in small pockets and Idlib province, has reasserted control over much of the south, central and north of the country. The Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces control much of the north and east, down to Deir Ezzor.