New Iran president backs Syria’s Assad, Hezbollah

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president-elect has sent messages to Syria’s Bashar Assad and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, reaffirming support for the two allies.

The official IRNA news agency on Tuesday cited Hasan Rouhani as saying close Iranian-Syrian ties will be able to confront “enemies in the region, especially the Zionist regime,” or Israel.

Rouhani says Syria will “overcome its current crisis.”

The note was in response to Assad’s congratulatory message on Rouhani’s June election. Tehran has sided with Assad’s regime in Syria’s civil war.

Rouhani also wrote to Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, saying Iran backs the “steadfast nation” of Lebanon and the Palestinians, a reference to the militant Hamas group.

The notes reflect Rouhani’s intentions to emphasize links to Iran’s key regional allies even as he urges for greater outreach to the West.

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