Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters, on Thursday praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his “resistance” after seven years of war.
“Syria is on the front lines today; it is our duty to defend the Syrian resistance,” Khamenei said, quoted on his official website.
“Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, appeared as a great example of resistance and a fighting image; he never hesitated and stood strong: this is extremely important for a nation,” he added.
Khamenei also hailed Iran’s survival as it enters the 40th year since the Islamic revolution.
“From day one, all major world powers united and acted against us: the United States, USSR, NATO, Arab and regional reactionaries -- they all united. But we survived and prospered.”
Addressing Assad, he said “if you and we, and other elements of resistance stay determined, the enemy cannot accomplish a single thing”.
The resistance, according to Iran, is made up of Iran, Syria, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Palestinian Islamist groups.
Iran is the main regional ally of the Syrian regime, which is also supported by Russia.
Khamenei’s statement comes a day after the EU urged Iran, Russia and Turkey to do what they can to get the Syrian government to halt its offensive in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta to let aid enter and civilians evacuate.
On Saturday the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria without delay, but it has yet to take effect.
Russia and Syria set up a humanitarian corridor for the entry of aid and for civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta for five hours each day, but violence has continued with the regime and rebels blaming each other.