Assad ‘to visit Tehran’ to offer condolences on Raisi following Iranian media criticism

Assad ‘to visit Tehran’ to offer condolences on Raisi following Iranian media criticism
Bashar Al-Assad will reportedly visit Tehran despite criticism in Iranian media for signing a document backing the UAE’s claim to islands controlled by Iran.
2 min read
23 May, 2024
Bashar al-Assad received crucial backing from Iran in his war against Syrian opposition forces [Getty]

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will reportedly be visiting Tehran soon to offer condolences over the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on 19 May, the semi-official Iranian Mehr News Agency said on Thursday.

"I was very eager to be with the people of Iran these days and meet the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and express my condolences personally, so I will travel to Iran at the first opportunity," Assad told acting Iranian President Mohammed Mokhber, according to Mehr.

Iran has played a crucial role in propping up Assad’s regime after a popular uprising broke out against the Syrian dictator in 2011.

The uprising later turned into an armed conflict and Iran has sent militiamen and weapons to help the regime gain the upper hand against rebel forces. The conflict has killed over 500,000 people, with most of these killed as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.

Iran often claims that together with Syria and allied militias in the Middle East it forms an "axis of resistance" standing up to US and Israeli hegemony.

"As in the past, we stand by our commitment to fully support the axis of resistance, especially the independent country of Syria, and we will be waiting for your visit in Tehran," Mokhber told Assad, Mehr reported.

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The announcement of Assad’s forthcoming visit came amid reported criticism of the Syrian leader in Iranian media, over Syria’s signature on a declaration issued by the Arab League Summit in Bahrain.

The declaration included a clause affirming the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over three islands in the Gulf which were occupied by Iran in 1971 and have been disputed ever since.

Iranian commentator and former MP Hesmatollah Falahatpisheh accused Assad of "stabbing Iran in the back" over the declaration, the Iranian opposition Iran International news website reported.

Assad’s influential wife Asmaa was recently diagnosed with leukemia, Syrian regime authorities said earlier this week. It was not clear whether this would impact the Syrian leader’s ability to travel.