By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – April 24, 2018 – Iran has given Syria’s Bashar al-Assad another show of support, with a high-level delegation in Damascus days after pro-Assad forces — aided by Tehran and enabled by Russian airstrikes — overran the East Ghouta area near the capital.
The Islamic Republic has been essential to Assad’s survival since the Syrian uprising in March 2011, providing political backing, economic assistance, and much of the military effort on the ground. Despite suffering chemical attacks at the hands of Iraq in the 1980s, Iran has also provided propaganda cover for Assad’s denial of his own assaults, including the two chemical strikes on East Ghouta’s Douma to force its capitulation.
On Monday, Assad received Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari and an Iranian delegation who were in talks with regime officials throughout the weekend.
President Bashar al-Assad on Monday received Senior Assistant to Iran’s Foreign Minister for Special Political Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, and the accompanying delegation.
No details of the discussion were given by Assad regime and Iranian State media, with a summary that “Jaberi Ansari briefed President al-Assad on the political efforts exerted by Iran to help end the war on Syria, discussing the latest developments regarding the situation on the ground”.
The Iranian minister also denounced the recent US-UK-France missile strikes on three facilities connected with Syria’s chemical weapons program, saying that they were “motivated by the victories of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies against terrorists”. He did not mention that they were actually in response to the Douma attacks.
Syrian State news agency SANA put out Assad’s standard lines that the three Western countries and “their pawns in the region” have been “supporting terrorists since Day One of the war on Syria”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York, said a weekend TV interview Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that further Israeli airstrikes in Syria would have “consequences”, although he said major escalation is unlikely.
Israel has periodically struck Assad regime sites and convoys to hinder Iran’s supply of missiles and other weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another key ally of Damascus, and to warn Iran and Hezbollah to stay out of the area in southwest Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Israelis have hit an Iranian military position in Damascus and, twice in the past three months, attacked a major base in central Syria where Iranian personnel operate. The strikes have killed several members of the Revolutionary Guards.
Zarif told CBS News: I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war but I do believe that unfortunately, Israel has continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of the U.S. support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.The easiest answer would be to stop – to stop these acts of aggression, to stop these incursions. www.mesop.de