Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) greets Bashar al-Assad during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran on October 2, 2010
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) greets Bashar al-Assad during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran on October 2, 2010. © Atta Kenare - AFP
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) greets Bashar al-Assad during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran on October 2, 2010
Last updated: September 5, 2013

Syria and Iran – more than 30 years of close ties

Key dates in the relationship between Damascus and Tehran since Iran's Islamic revolution of 1979. Syria, with a Sunni majority but led by an Alawite minority, a branch of Shiite Islam, is Shiite Iran's main regional ally.

- February-April 1979: Iran's shah overthrown in a popular Islamic revolution. The new authorities proclaim an Islamic republic.

- In mid-January, a top Syrian official says that Damascus directly supported Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini against the shah and that relations with the religious leader were "excellent."

- In 1982, Damascus and Tehran sign an accord on the sale of Iranian oil to Syria at preferential rates.

- 1980-1988: Syria is one of the few Arab countries to back Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war.

- 1982: Israel's invasion of Lebanon marks a turning point in relations between Damascus and Tehran. Iran's Revolutionary Guards play a key role in setting up Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which in 2000 secures the departure of the last Israeli troops from the south Lebanon border zone.

- September 1990: Syrian president Hafez al-Assad pays his first official visit to Tehran since 1979.

- March 1997: Iran's defence minister announces that Iran will help to modernise Syria's military equipment.

- January 2001: President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father in 2000, pays his first official visit to Tehran.

- January 2006: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets radical Palestinian leaders and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Damascus.

- Assad backs Iran's drive to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful ends.

- Both Tehran and Damascus actively back Hezbollah, the only Lebanese movement not to have laid down its arms after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

- April 2011: The United States accuses Iran of helping Assad's regime put down protests after an uprising breaks out in mid-March.

- December, 2011: Iran's parliament votes through a free trade accord with Syria, in what is seen as a backlash against the United States and its allies trying to topple Assad's regime.

- January 2012: Washington, Paris and London accuse Tehran of providing arms to Damascus to help put down the uprising.

- February, 2012: Two Iranian warships dock in Syria to "train" its ally's navy, Iranian state television reports.

- February 14, 2013: The Iranian authorities say assailants shot dead an Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief in an ambush. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards said in September that its elite special operations unit, was in Syria and Lebanon but that they were only there to provide "counsel."

- April 30, 2013: Hezbollah chief Nasrallah suggests Iran and other states could intervene to support the Syrian regime against rebel fighters.

- August 21, 2013: An alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus, in which several hundred are killed. The opposition and European countries accuse the Syrian regime. Since then Iran has warned against destabilisation of the region in case of a military strike against Damascus.

- September 5, 2013: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says allegations the Syrian regime used chemical weapons are a "pretext" to attack the country.

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