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Syria touts Iran support as new credit line extended

Assad calls Tehran ‘key pillar’ in combating rebels; Islamic Republic will back Syria ‘by all means,’ Khamenei aide vows

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Syria’s President Bashar Assad on Tuesday praised Iran’s support as a “key pillar” in his fight against rebels, as the third Iranian official visited Damascus in less than a week and Iran opened the faucet on more cash for the embattled country.

The visits come after several military losses for the Syrian government and as Tehran negotiates a key nuclear deal with the United States, which backs the rebels fighting Assad.

“The support given by Iran to the Syrian people constitutes a key pillar in the battle against terrorism,” official news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying during a meeting with Velayati.

Iran said it would extend a new credit line to Syria to make up for market needs and the two countries signed several agreements in the fields of electricity, industry, oil and investment, SANA reported.

The new credit was announced Tuesday during a visit to Damascus by Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Velayati meanwhile praised the “strategic relations” between Damascus and Tehran, saying they “constitute one of the essential pillars in confronting Western projects… and the illusions… of certain regional countries.”

He said Iran would “continue to support Syria by all means,” adding “a small world war is being waged against Syria,” SANA said.

Syria’s government refers to all those seeking to oust Assad as “terrorists.”

Iran is a top ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is believed to have supplied his government with billions of dollars since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Tehran extended a $1 billion credit line to Syria to help support the local currency in June 2013.

The new credit — it was not clear how much — comes as the Syrian pound’s depreciation has accelerated.

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