Russia’s Putin in Tehran on first visit in eight years



Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran Monday on his first trip to Iran in eight years, for talks on the devastating conflict in Syria where both countries support the Damascus regime.

The official IRNA news agency said Putin landed in the capital at around 1:15 pm (0945 GMT).

He will hold talks with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani on the one-day visit, while also taking part in a summit of gas exporting countries.

Russia and Iran have been the main international backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since an uprising broke out against his rule in 2011, swiftly escalating into a civil war.

Moscow launched a bombing campaign in support of Assad’s forces on September 30 which it has stepped up since the Islamic State jihadist group blew up a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

Moscow says its air strikes target IS and other “terrorists,” but rebels and their backers say moderate and Islamist opposition fighters have borne the brunt of them.

Tehran, meanwhile, has provided its Damascus ally with financial and military aid, including advisers from its elite Revolutionary Guards.

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