Syria's President Bashar al-Assad meets with Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's acting foreign minister, in Damascus, Syria June 4, 2024

Iran’s Top Diplomat Meets Syria’s Assad, Palestinian Factions

Tuesday, 06/04/2024

Iran's acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri-Kani met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Damascus on Tuesday, where he also held a meeting with Palestinian representatives.

Reports in Iranian media emphasized that discussions were about the war in Gaza and “putting an end to Israeli crimes.”

Bagheri-Kani travelled to Syria after meetings in Beirut on Monday, his first trip abroad since becoming Iran's acting top diplomat following the deaths of his predecessor and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

He also met Palestinian factions at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, as his predecessor had. There are no details about what was discussed in the meeting. Iran backs Palestinian armed groups including Hamas, which launched the October 7 attack on Israeli territory that triggered the Gaza conflict. The Iranian government immediately launched celebration on October 7 and has vowed to continue providing support to Hamas.

At a joint press conference alongside Mekdad, Bagheri-Kani said the pair had discussed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid without conditions. Iranian media said that the chief diplomat also emphasized the importance of strengthening the “strategic relations” between the two countries.

Syria’s Mekdad rejected reports about problems in the bilateral relations, calling such statements “Claims, delusions, or the wishes of some people.”

Bagheri-Kani was then received by Assad on Tuesday afternoon to discuss bilateral ties between the two close allies and "developments in the occupied Palestinian territories", according to Assad's office.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah meets with Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, in this handout picture released by Hezbollah Media Office on June 4, 2024, Lebanon.

One day before Bagher-Kani’s visit to Damascus, Iranian government media reported that a Revolutionary Guard "advisor", Saeed (Saeid) Abyar was killed in an Israeli air strike near Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria early Monday.

At least since 2017, Israel has regularly bombed Iran-related targets in Syria to prevent weapons transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the expansion of Iranian bases in Syria.

A devastating air strike on April 1 flattened a building in the Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus, where two senior Revolutionary Guard generals and five other officers died. Reportedly, these individuals were involved in operations aimed at intensifying attacks on Israel. This led to a massive Iranian missile and drone retaliatory attack against Israel on April 13, which inflicted minimal damage. Most projectiles were shot down.

In his day-long visit to Beirut, Bagheri-Kani met his Lebanese counterpart, other Lebanese officials and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of powerful armed group Hezbollah which is the spearhead of Iran's network in the region.

Assad met Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on May 30 to offer condolences for the death of Raisi.

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