Assad met with an Iranian government official on bilateral ties, increased military cooperation, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Russia, Turkey, and Iran to meet on Syria in Ankara; Germany, France, and Russia to meet on Syria in August.

Reports from Syria claim its President, Bashar al-Assad, met with an Iranian official in Damascus this week. Their talks centered on how to deal with Israeli airstrikes and President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”

The report was first released by Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper and did not name the Iranian official. Later, the regime-backed Mehr reported that Assad met with a high-ranking Iranian government official, its Special Assistant of the Speaker of Iran’s Shura Council for Political Affairs, Hussein Amir Abdullahian. Their meeting was reported by several regional news agencies to have centered on strengthening Syrian-Iranian military ties, as well as combatting the United States’ interests in the region. They also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and President Trump’s peace deal, known as the “Deal of the Century.”

Assad’s meetings with regional military and political figures have increased over the past months, as has the media coverage. Last week, Assad met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin in Damascus, their meeting centered on strengthening ties and continued work in “repairing” Syria.

In February of this year, Assad visited Iran in his first visit to the region since the beginning of Syria’s civil war, which started over eight years ago. Assad met with both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, as well as the head of Iran’s elite Quds Forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Qasem Soleimani. Assad has been reported to have only left Syria three times throughout its civil war, visiting Russia twice and now Iran. His last visit to Iran was in 2010.

Last week, Russia announced talks on Syria would be held in Nur-Sultan in August over two days in Kazakhstan, as confirmed by its Deputy Foreign Minister, Michael Bogdanov. Representatives from Russia, Turkey, and Iran will also again meet on Syria in Ankara in August as well, a continuation of their meetings, refereed to as the “Astana talks,” which have been ongoing since the December 2016 ceasefire. According to a spokesman from Turkey, “The meeting will mainly be on Idlib and other parts of Syria, on the general security situation, transition processes, constitutional commission, and resettlement.”

A third high-profile meeting on Syria will be held by representatives from Russia, France, and Germany in August as well.



Photo: Harold Escalona/