BEIRUT - Iran assured Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday that his country was a vital partner in its regional anti-Israeli alliance, a bond that would not be broken by a rebellion it said was backed by the two countries' common enemies.
"Iran will not allow the axis of resistance, of which it considers Syria to be an essential part, to be broken in any way," Syrian state television quoted Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as telling Assad.
Jalili's meeting with Assad, shown on Syrian TV, was the first broadcast footage of the president in two weeks. Assad has been shown on television only twice since a July 18 bombing which killed four members of his inner circle, the biggest single blow he has suffered during an armed insurgency.
Jalili said the 17-month uprising was not a domestic matter for Syria but a "conflict between the axis of resistance and its enemies in the region and the world."
The "axis of resistance" refers to Iran's alliance with Syria and Lebanon's Shi'ite group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, with Iranian and Syrian support. It also includes some Palestinian terrorist groups.
Also Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry condemned comments by an Iranian official blaming Ankara for the bloodshed in Syria and warning Turkey it would be next.
"It is unacceptable and irresponsible that Iranian officials in various posts continue to target our country through their statements, although Turkey's principled foreign policy is known to everyone," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Everyone knows who, inside and outside Syria, is responsible for the human tragedy, caused by the Syrian regime. They will be called to account by history and human conscience."