Bashar Al-Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Bashar Al-Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Reuters

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Monday met Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on his first visit to the Islamic Republic since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

During the meeting, Assad expressed his gratitude to Iran for all that it has done for Syria during the conflict, AFP reported.

The leaders "reviewed the fraternal and strong relations between their two peoples, which have been the main factor in maintaining Syria and Iran in the face of plots by enemy countries," the Syrian presidency said.

Khamenei told Assad that "Iran considers helping the government and nation of Syria to be helping the resistance movement and is proud of it from the bottom of its heart", his website said.

"The creation of the buffer that the Americans are seeking to create in Syria is an example of these dangerous conspiracies which must be strongly denounced and resisted," Khamenei added.

Assad also met with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during his trip to Iran, according to AFP.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran as before will be alongside the people and government of Syria," Iran government's official website quoted Rouhani as saying.

While Iranian leaders deny that the Islamic Republic has a military presence in Syria, Iran is a key supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, having providing the regime with both financial aid and military advisers against a range of opposing forces since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Near the start of the Syrian civil war, it was reported that then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made clear last summer that Iran would withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

This past weekend, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, boasted that his country had “accomplished more than 90 percent” of its goals in Syria.

Shamkhani also said that his country will keep working with Syria against “the Zionist regime of Israel”.

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