BEIRUT: Iranian Presi­dent Ebrahim Raisi will visit Damascus next week, a senior regional source close to the Syrian government said 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. With military help and economic support from both Iran and Russia, Assad was able to turn the tide of the conflict and regain control of most of his country.

The senior regional source said that a warming of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as a thaw in Arab states’ isolation of Syria, had paved the way for the visit.

The Syrian daily al-Watan, which is close to the government, reported that Raisi’s visit would last two days and would be capped by a string of agreements, particularly on economic cooperation.

Iran has previously provided lines of credit to Damascus and imports phosphate from Syrian mines.

This month, regional sources revealed that Iran had secretly brought weapons and other military equipment to Syria by disguising the transfers as part of the relief effort following the devastating February earthquakes in Syria and Turkiye.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2023

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