Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran and Damascus share a common goal of confronting Israel and will continue on that path until the Golan Heights has been returned to Syria.
Rouhani’s website said the remarks came during a meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its support to the Syrian government and people as our strategic ally and we will stand by Syria until its final victory,” Rouhani said, adding that confronting “Zionist occupiers and terrorism” is the joint goal of both nations.
“Until the liberation of all occupied lands including the Golan, confronting Zionist occupiers” should continue, said Rouhani.
According to the Tasnim news agency, Rouhani also denounced US President Donald Trump for his endorsement last year of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Mekad in turn praised the “valuable and honorable” ties between the countries, the news agency reported. Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, lending his government in Damascus vital military and economic support.
Israel has waged a several-year campaign aimed at disrupting Iranian forces and allied militias’ attempts to gain a foothold in Syria, especially near the Golan, fearing it would be used for an attack on the Jewish state.
Iran in the past has claimed that its troops are in Syria in a strictly advisory role against “terrorism.”
In a separate meeting with Mekdad, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said that “the world will undoubtedly become safer without the Zionist regime.”
Shamkhani also called on the international community to take action against Israel, which he described as “bloodsucking and anti-human.”
It was Mekdad’s first visit to Iran as foreign minister after he assumed his post in November, succeeding veteran diplomat Walid Muallem.
On Monday he met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, where the two discussed “bilateral, regional and international issues, as well as the joint fight against terrorism,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The comments came at a time of rapid escalation in military action in the region over the past few weeks that has seen top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassinated and unconfirmed reports of airstrikes that have killed pro-Iranian fighters or Iranian troops in Syria, all widely attributed to Israel.
For the most part, the threat from Iranian proxies — namely Hezbollah and other militias in Syria and Lebanon — is primarily against Israel’s northern borders. Tehran, however, also backs the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and, to a lesser extent, Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Last month Israeli troops uncovered three anti-personnel mines that the military said were planted by Syrian operatives operating under the orders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force.
In response to the thwarted bombing attack, which the IDF believed was meant to target the soldiers who patrol the border, the military launched a series of airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria, killing at least four Syrian soldiers who were operating air defense batteries that were targeted by Israeli fighter jets.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said last week that Israel would not let up its campaign aimed at keeping Iran-backed fighters from gaining a foothold in Syria.
The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.