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Iran, Syria vow ‘mighty steps’ in confronting US sanctions

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, center left, receives Iran's new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, left, in Damascus, Syria, August 29, 2021. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, center left, receives Iran's new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, left, in Damascus, Syria, August 29, 2021. (SANA via AP)

DAMASCUS, Syria — Iran and Syria vow Sunday to take “mighty steps” to confront US sanctions imposed on the two regional allies, saying their relations will strengthen under Iran’s new leadership.

The announcement is made by Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is received at the airport for a visit to Damascus by his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad.

Iran has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest backers, sending thousands of fighters from around the region to help his troops in Syria’s 10-year conflict that has killed half a million and displaced half the country’s prewar population of 23 million.

With the help of Russia and Iran, Syrian government forces now control much of Syria. But the country has been suffering for years under American and European Union sanctions.

US Treasury sanctions have targeted a network that spans Syria, Iran and Russia, and which is responsible for shipping oil to the Syrian government.

American sanctions were imposed on Tehran after former US president Donald Trump pulled America out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

The sanctions have caused severe fuel shortages in Syria, which has been relying mostly on Iranian oil shipments that have been subjected to mysterious attacks over the past two years. Syria has blamed Israel for the attacks.

“The leadership of the two countries will together take mighty steps to confront economic terrorism and reduce pressure on our people,” Amir-Abdollahian says at the airport. He doesn’t say how the two countries will fight the sanctions.

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Syria comes a day after he represented Iran in a conference attended by officials from around the Middle East aimed at easing regional tensions.

Amir-Abdollahian describes Syria as the “land of resistance,” adding that Damascus and Tehran had worked together “on the ground and achieved joint victories.”

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