PHOTO: Supreme Leader’s top aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, November 2015
Dismissing reports of distance between Iran and Russia over their approach to the Syrian conflict, the Supreme Leader’s top aide has assured that the two countries are coordinating all political and military measures.
Moscow and Tehran are the main allies of the Assad regime, and both are holding out against any immediate replacement of the Syrian President. However, while Iran has insisted that Assad must be allowed to stand in any elections during a “political transition”, Russia has not made that commitment.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s foreign policy advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, said on Saturday:
Russians seek coordination with Iran in measures against terrorist groups. The Russians at times had had a different standpoint but they reached a common stance with Iran after consultation.
To make his point, Velayati acknowledged that the head of Iran’s elite Qods Force, General Qassem Soleimani, has visited Moscow — including a critical trip in late July to arrange intervention to save the Assad regime and Syrian military — for the coordination.
He said that some countries, “maybe even global powers”, could join the Russian-Iranian effort in the near-future. However, he questioned if the US would do so: “The terrorist group has activities in regions of oil resources without any problem, US never bombs such regions.”
To prop up the Assad regime and to push back rebels, Russia began a bombing campaign — mainly on opposition-held areas — on September 30. Iran put in commanders, fighters, and Iranian-led foreign militia to support and sometimes lead a six-front offensive by the Syrian military, five of them against the rebels.
Iran has officially acknowledged the loss of eight commanders and 69 troops since October 7, most of them on the front south of Aleppo city.