Damascus 'Legitimizes' Iranian Presence

Damascus 'Legitimizes' Iranian Presence

Tuesday, 28 August, 2018 - 06:15
Bashar al Assad meets Amir Hatami in Damascus,Syria in this handout picture provided by regime media on August 26, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS
Damascus - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran and Syria signed a deal for military cooperation in a meeting between the defense ministers of the two countries in Damascus, Iranian media reported on Monday.

"Syria is passing through the crisis stage and entering the reconstruction phase," said Iran's Defense Minister Amir Hatami, according to the Tasnim news agency. 

Hatami was on Monday on the second day of a two-day visit to Damascus, during which he held "detailed negotiations" with his counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub and the head of the regime, Bashar al-Assad, according to Tasnim.

The "defense and technical agreement" provides for the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria, added Hatami.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to Assad since the war erupted in 2011.

Hours after Hatami landed in Damascus, “Hezbollah” members were seen leaving Syrian territories.

Sources said that convoys hoisting “Hezbollah” flags and carrying the group’s fighters left the area of Qusair in Homs province’s western countryside, and entered Lebanese territories through Hermel.

It was not clear if Hezbollah’s move was linked to the agreement signed between Tehran and Damascus.

"The most important element of the deal is the rebuilding of the Syrian armed forces and defense industries so that they can regain their full capacity," said Hatami, according to Tasnim.

Separately, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said during a visit to western towns and villages on Monday that the territory of the Sanjak of Alexandretta, now renamed Hatay, belongs to Syria

The minister was seen in a video during his visit to Al Samra village. “The Sanjak of Alexandretta is ours and we will have it back one day,” he was heard saying.

His comments came as the Turkish Army boosted its forces in Morek near Hama, raising the number of military bases established following an agreement reached with Russia to 12

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