Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Damascus next week, a senior regional source close to the Syrian government told Reuters on Friday. The visit will be the first by an Iranian president to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since war broke out in Syria in 2011.
Syrian newspaper “Al-Watan” confirmed that Raisi would visit Damascus next Wednesday in the first official visit by an Iranian president since 2010.
The newspaper cited informed sources as saying that during a two-day visit, Raisi and Assad will hold official talks aimed at enhancing strategic cooperation between the two countries, “especially in the economic field.”
According to Al-Watan, a significant number of agreements and MoUs on economic cooperation between the two countries will be signed during the visit.
The visit by the Iranian president comes just days after Assad received Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash, and accepted the credentials of Hossein Akbari, Iran’s new ambassador to Syria.
Assad has visited Tehran twice since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Iran is a key supporter of Assad’s regime, having provided it with weapons, thousands of military advisers, and armed militia members from various countries who are now deployed in military bases spread across Syria.
Israeli strikes have repeatedly targeted Iranian and affiliated militia presence in Syria to prevent the arrival of advanced weapons. The proliferation of Iranian militias in Syria also created tension with the US and the international coalition it is leading to fight ISIS in the east of the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “Iranian militias” have brought in howitzers and Grad rocket launchers loaded on four-wheel drive vehicles, towards the “Soleimani” base located near the fields in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour.
The move aims to reinforce their military power and establish their presence in the area.