Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) is greeted by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Monday. Photo: SANA / AFP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Monday on his first visit to the Islamic republic since the Syrian conflict began.

During the meeting, Assad thanked Iran for its support during the conflict, according to the Syrian presidency’s account on the Telegram messaging app.

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 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 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his trip.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran as before will be alongside the people and government of Syria,” the Iranian government’s official website quoted Rouhani as saying.

Iran and Russia have been the key allies supporting Assad as he has fought to maintain his grip on Syria during nearly eight years of fighting that has claimed more than 360,000 lives.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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