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Iran's Zarif in Syria for talks on Idlib offensive

By AFP

Added 3rd September 2018 11:00 AM

The visit comes as Syrian government forces mass around the last rebel bastion in the northwestern province of Idlib near the Turkish border.

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The visit comes as Syrian government forces mass around the last rebel bastion in the northwestern province of Idlib near the Turkish border.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a surprise visit to ally Syria on Monday for talks on the looming offensive against the country's last major rebel stronghold, his ministry said.

Zarif left early on Monday and "is at the moment in talks with Syrian officials," spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters in Tehran.

The visit comes as Syrian government forces mass around the last rebel bastion in the northwestern province of Idlib near the Turkish border.

"Iran will remain a supporter of the Syrian government in its efforts to remove terrorists from its land, and it will continue its advisory role and help the Syrian government in the upcoming Idlib campaign," Ghasemi said.

Zarif was due to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

The visit also comes ahead of a trilateral meeting between the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey, due to take place in Tehran on Friday to discuss the conflict.

Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami was in Damascus last week and signed a "defence and technical agreement" designed to ensure the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad as he has fought back a seven-year uprising.

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