Iran’s acting FM visits Lebanon for talks on ‘resistance front’ against Israel

Ali Bagheri Kani, serving as foreign minister after death of his predecessor, calls for ‘joint movement’ against Israel; will also visit Syria

Iranian interim Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, left, shakes hands with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, after their news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, June 3, 2024. Kani arrived in Lebanon Monday, his first official diplomatic visit since his predecessor died in a helicopter crash last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Iranian interim Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, left, shakes hands with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, after their news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, June 3, 2024. Kani arrived in Lebanon Monday, his first official diplomatic visit since his predecessor died in a helicopter crash last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Iran’s acting foreign minister arrived in Lebanon Monday, his first official diplomatic visit since his predecessor died in a helicopter crash last month, in an accident that also killed Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that Ali Bagheri Kani would visit Lebanon and then Syria “to meet with the two countries’ officials as well as the officials of the resistance front to discuss ways to counter the Zionist regime,” referring to Israel.

The Islamic Republic of Iran backs a number of proxy forces throughout the Middle East, of which the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is widely seen as the most powerful.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the Israel-Lebanon border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war against Hamas there.

Israel has been at war with the terror group Hamas, which Iran also supports, since October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists poured into southern Israel from Gaza, killing 1,200 people and taking 251 hostages.

Iran also supports the Houthi rebel group in Yemen, as well as militias in Iraq and Syria, all of which have been involved in attacks on Israel and US forces since the outbreak of the war with Hamas.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, left, shakes hands with Iranian interim foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani before their meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, June 3, 2024. Kani arrived in Lebanon Monday, his first official diplomatic visit since his predecessor died in a helicopter crash last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Bagheri Kani met with his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib, and praised the “close relations” between Lebanon and Iran. He told reporters that “resistance is the basis for stability in the region.”

“We agreed that all countries in the region, especially the Islamic countries, should adopt a joint movement in order to counter Israeli aggression and protect the Palestinian people, especially in Rafah,” he said.

Israel began operations in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, which it says is Hamas’s last major stronghold, last month. The Israel Defense Forces have since seized control of the corridor that connects Gaza and Egypt, discovering tunnels. Hamas has been known to use such tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza, something the IDF believes it can no longer do as the military controls the area.

Bou Habib said Lebanon, for its part, wants to avoid a wider war and is looking for “sustainable solutions that restore calm and stability to southern Lebanon.”

So far, the skirmishes on the Israel-Lebanon border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 14 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 326 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

The danger of a direct conflict between Iran and Israel has also risen since October 7.

On April 1, an apparent Israeli airstrike in Damascus killed two Iranian generals, including the country’s top commander in Syria, along with other Iranian-aligned militants.

In response, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, an unprecedented attack that marked the first time Iran had openly fired at Israel from its own territory, rather than through a proxy force.

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