Iran has boosted Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, amid the killing of more than 500,000 of his citizens and displacement of more than 11 million, as an outstanding leader.

The Supreme Leader, meeting a Syrian delegation including the Minister of Endowment on Thursday, said Assad is “a great defender of resistance and a fighting image. He never hesitated and stood strong.”

Ayatollah Khamenei indicated that Iran, which has been essential in propping up Assad since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, would not back any calls for the President’s departure as part of a political settlement:

Iran will continue to support the Syrian government. Syria is on the front lines today; it is our duty to defend the Syrian resistance.

Khamenei used the rest of his statement, and the Syrian conflict, to lash out at other countries, past and present:

From day one, all major world powers united and acted against us: the United States, USSR, NATO, Arab, and regional reactionaries — they all united. But we survived and prospered….

If you and we, and other elements of resistance, stay determined, the enemy cannot accomplish a single thing.

Iran has publicly backed the current assault by pro-Assad forces on East Ghouta, near the Syrian capital Damascus, which has killed almost 900 people and injured more than 4,000 in the past month.