Syria’s security services chief Ali Mamlouk attended a meeting between President Bashar Assad and an Iranian official on Wednesday, after a newspaper claimed he was under house arrest for plotting a coup.
Mamlouk’s presence at the meeting, which was reported by the official news agency SANA, came after Britain’s Telegraph newspaper said the top regime official had been sidelined.
SANA said Mamlouk was among the attendees at the meeting between Assad and the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi.
The news agency and the official social media accounts of the Syrian presidency also published a photo of the meeting, showing Mamlouk seated next to Assad.
The Telegraph had reported on Monday that Mamlouk, who heads the powerful National Security Bureau, was under house arrest after being accused of contacting countries that back Syria’s opposition, as well as exiled members of the Syrian regime.
It is almost unheard of for Syrian media to report on Mamlouk’s activities and publish photos of him, suggesting his presence was a direct rebuttal of the claims of his arrest.
— Syrian Presidency (@Presidency_Sy) May 13, 2015
Mamlouk’s presence at the meeting also appeared particularly symbolic as the Telegraph had said Mamlouk was angry about the growing influence of Iran in Syria.
Tehran is a key ally of Assad’s embattled regime, and has dispatched military advisers to guide his forces against an uprising that began in March 2011.
SANA said Assad had thanked Iran during the meeting for supporting Syria “in the face of a terrorist war.”
“The terrorists and those who support them, who make war against the Syrian people, do nothing but reinforce their determination to eliminate terrorism with the help of friendly countries, chief among them Iran,” SANA quoted Assad as saying.
Boroujerdi meanwhile pledged that “Iran will spare no effort to help the Syrian people… achieve victory,” the agency reported.
“No force in the world could affect the special relationship that unites the two peoples” of Syria and Iran, he added.