Leader's Adviser Reaffirms Support for Syria

Leader's Adviser Reaffirms Support for SyriaLeader's Adviser Reaffirms Support for Syria

Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy adviser to the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, reiterated the Islamic Republic's support for the Syrian nation and government in their fight against terrorism.

"It is not easy for a country to withstand five years of war as Syria did. Iran will continue to support Syria's leadership, army and people," Velayati told reporters upon arrival in the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday, Tasnim News Agency reported.

He praised the efforts of the Syrian government and army in the battle against terrorism and said, "I believe the Syrian president who has shown that he can run the country with prudence and bravery."

Upon his arrival, the senior Iranian official was received by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

Mekdad briefed Velayati on latest developments in the crisis-hit country and said the ultimate victory is imminent.

"Iran has always stood by the Syrian nation and the two countries' ties are strategic and crucial," he said.

In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday, Velayati said the Islamic Republic will use all its means to help combat terrorism in the region.

Assad expressed gratitude to the Iranian government and people for their backing for the Syrian nation.

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various militant groups, including the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, currently controlling parts of it.

According to a new report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others and displaced nearly half of the country's prewar population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

  Need for Saudi Policy Shift

In an interview with IRNA on Friday, the Leader's adviser said Saudi Arabia needs to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Middle East countries.

"Whenever Saudi Arabia stops meddling in [the internal affairs of] other countries, particularly Muslim and regional states, we think that domestic, regional and international problems could be resolved," he said.

Velayati added that neither Iran nor any other country should interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, emphasizing that the Islamic Republic's presence in some regional countries, including Syria and Iraq, is based on the request of the Baghdad and Damascus governments.

"If we are present in Syria, [it is] based on a request by the country's legal government to [help] protect the oppressed [Syrian] people against terrorists and criminals," he said.

The adviser stressed that Riyadh is present in Syria upon a request by Takfiri groups that are nurtured by Saudis themselves.

A Takfiri accuses followers of some Islamic sects of heresy.

"Since Iran believes that the Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi nations should determine their own future, it will never engage in any dialogue with Saudis about these countries," he said.

Velayati said it would be an "irrational and illegal" act by Tehran and Riyadh to haggle over the interests of other nations.

"We do not haggle with other countries, even Saudi Arabia, over the interests of other nations and we do not accept this course," he said.