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Iran Reiterates Support for Syria’s Assad | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Residents walk near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo, Syria May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

A senior Iranian official has met with the head of the Syrian Regime, Bashar Assad, and pledged unrelenting support for his government in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met with Assad in Damascus on Saturday.

Velayati asserted Tehran’s willingness to always stand up for Syria because it “knows that terrorism does not target Syria but the whole people of the region,” Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

The adviser’s comments came as Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that a cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo has been extended by three days starting Saturday.

Russia’s defense ministry said a “regime of calm” truce in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and parts of Latakia province had been extended “for 72 hours beginning at 1 a.m. on Saturday” (1700 ET on Friday), Syrian state news agency SANA reported.

A fragile local truce had been in place for Aleppo city since early on Wednesday. In northern Latakia province, it first took effect on April 29, after a wider truce deal in western Syria brokered by Washington and Moscow broke down.

The Russian Defense Ministry statement early Saturday said the extension was made at Moscow’s initiative and would also apply to the Latakia region.

Russia and the U.S. last week reached an agreement to extend Syria’s cease-fire to Aleppo. The Syrian regime’s forces said it would last only 48 hours.

The Russian military accused the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, of attempting to destroy the cease-fire by carrying out attacks on Aleppo and trying to impose a blockade on the city from the south.

The Nusra Front and the ISIS terrorist group are not included in the cease-fire.