Assad Receives Support from Iranian Allies
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad won a pledge of support on Tuesday from regional ally Iran, Reuters reported.
Seeking to restore his authority after suffering grave setbacks in the 17-month-old uprising against him, culminating in the defection of his prime minister on Monday, Assad was shown on television meeting a senior Iranian official.
The report noted that it was the first footage broadcast of Assad in two weeks and he was seen meeting Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
Jalilli was quoted as having said Iran would not let its close partnership with the Syrian leadership to be shaken by the uprising or external foes.
“Iran will not allow the axis of resistance, of which it considers Syria to be an essential part, to be broken in any way,” Syrian television quoted Jalili as saying.
The "axis of resistance" refers to Iran's anti-Israel alliance with Syria's rulers and the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terror group.
Iran's Fars news agency reported that Jalili told Assad that Iran was prepared to provide humanitarian aid to Syria.
The meeting came a day after Assad’s prime minister Riyad Hijab fled to Jordan and declared, “As of today, I am a soldier of the Free Syrian Army.”
Jordan confirmed Hijab’s asylum, but the Syrian regime immediately announced that he was fired, two months after he was appointed.
Hijab's defection was one of the most high profile desertions from President Bashar al-Assad's political and military circles. On Sunday, Al Arabiya television reported that a senior Syrian intelligence officer had also defected to Jordan.
The White House said that the defection of Syria's prime minister showed that Assad's government was “crumbling from within.”
“This is a sign that Assad's grip on power is loosening. If he cannot maintain cohesion within his own inner circle, it reflects on his inability to maintain any following among the Syrian people that isn't brought about at the point of a gun,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing.