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Iran’s support to Syria ‘firm and eternal:’ official

Iran is the closest regional ally of Syria’s embattled regime and supports it financially and militarily

Published: Updated:

Iran’s military and financial support to Syria’s regime is unwavering, a high-ranking Iranian official said in Damascus Thursday, calling a U.S. program to train Syrian rebels “a strategic mistake.”

“We came to Syria to announce that our support for the Syrian regime is firm and eternal,” said Alaedin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy, at a press conference concluding his two-day visit.

He said Syria and Iran “have close and strategic ties... and there is ongoing communication between the two countries’ defense ministers.”

Iran is the closest regional ally of Syria’s embattled regime and supports it financially and militarily. It has dispatched military advisers to Damascus to help Syria’s army cope with the four-year conflict.

Syrian defence minister General Fahd al-Freij visited Tehran in April, saying economic and military cooperation was “necessary and important... because of the sensitivity of the period that the region is going through.”

Boroujerdi congratulated Syria’s army and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which has intervened in Syria on behalf of the regime, on recent victories in the Qalamoun region, which lies north of Damascus and borders Lebanon.

Regime and Hezbollah fighters took control Wednesday of the highest hilltop in Qalamun, which overlooks the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Boroujerdi’s trip included meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, as well as other officials.

When asked about Washington’s plan to train moderate rebels to take on IS in Syria, Boroujerdi said the U.S. “was blinded” by its strategy in the country.

“There is no good terrorist and bad terrorist -- terrorism is terrorism, wherever it is,” he said.

Boroujerdi said nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., were “completely separate” from any discussions on conflicts in the Middle East.

He said Iran still had “serious and essential differences with the United States on regional issues.”

Syria’s conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011, but has since spiraled into a complex civil war that has left more than 220,000 people dead.