Iran’s top defence official met with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus on Sunday, hailing their strong ties and pledging to play a role in the war-torn country’s reconstruction. Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to President Bashar al-Assad while he was fighting back a seven-year uprising. On Sunday, Iran defence minister Amir Hatami arrived in Syria and met his counterpart Abdullah Ayoub. "Syria is in a very important juncture. It is passing through the critical stage and it is entering the very important stage of reconstruction," said Hatami It was agreed with Syria that Iran would have "presence, participation and assistance" in reconstruction "and no third party will be influential in this issue", he said. Since it erupted in 2011, Syria’s war has cost it about $388bn, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. Assad said in July reconstruction was his "top priority" in Syria, where more than 350,000 people have been ...

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