Iran signs agreement to bolster Syria's air defense systems



TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s military chief has signed an agreement with Syria's president to reinforce Syria's air defense systems as part of a military cooperation agreement, Iranian state TV reported Friday.

Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, met with Syria President Bashar Assad during his second visit to Syria since 2019.

Assad said the agreement signed by both sides is the result of “years of cooperation for confronting terrorism” in Syria.

Bagheri said it “will improve the determination of the two nations to confront U.S. pressures." He didn't elaborate.

U.S. ally Israel has occasionally attacked Iranian forces in Syria that Iran says are there to support Syria's fight against rebel groups as part of the country's 9-year civil war.

Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a brief video aired on Iranian state TV, Assad is seen receiving Bagheri and his delegation.

In November, Israeli fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force in Syria following rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Iran, which rarely comments on Israeli strikes, is the No. 1 regional supporter of Assad while also supporting anti-Israel militant groups like Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah.

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