A top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has that the Islamic Republic will never withdraw support for the “resistance front,” but will continue to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war. “Because Syria is a crucial element of the chain of resistance, the Islamic Republic of Iran sided with the Syrian government and people from the inception of this regional and international conspiracy [against Damascus]. And it will continue to do so,” emphasized Ali Akbar Velayati, who is also the head of Iran's Center for Strategic Research.

In a meeting with former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in Tehran, Velayati also rejected reports suggesting Lebanese Hezbollah militants would leave Syria after the ceasefire as “enemy propaganda.”

Comment:

The remarks by a top advisor of Khamenei, who has the final say on all Iranian domestic and foreign policies, show that Tehran is unwilling to end or curtail the role of foreign Shiite militias that fight in Syria at Iran’s behest and have been responsible for the killing of thousands of Syrians. Velayati’s comment also signifies Syria’s importance for Tehran’s regional agenda. Last week, Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said that had Damascus fallen, it would have prevented Iran from influencing events in Lebanon and Palestine.