DUBAI - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the Syrian leadership's handling of a year-long uprising in which thousands have died, saying Tehran would do everything it could to support its closest Arab ally, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
Shi'ite Muslim Iran backed popular uprisings which have removed leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen but has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
"I am very happy that Syrian officials are managing the situation well... I hope the situation in Syria improves day after day," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during talks with Assad's special envoy, Faisal Meqdad.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that more than 9,000 people have died in the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters and armed rebels opposed to Assad, while Syrian authorities blame foreign-backed terrorists for the violence and say 3,000 soldiers and police have been killed.
Ahmadinejad said there was no limit to expanding ties with Syria, and Iran would do "all in its power to support this country".