Iran and Syria vow to confront U.S. sanctions

Iran and Syria have vowed to take “mighty steps” to confront U.S. sanctions imposed on both countries, saying relations between the two regional allies will strengthen under Iran’s new leadership

The announcement was made by Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was received at the airport a visit to Damascus by his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad.

Iran has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest backers, sending thousands of fighters from around the region to help his troops in Syria’s 10-year conflict that has killed half a million and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

With the help of Russia and Iran, Syrian government forces now control much of Syria. But the country has been suffering for years under American and European Union sanctions.

U.S. Treasury sanctions have targeted a network that spans Syria, Iran and Russia, and which is responsible for shipping oil to the Syrian government.

The sanctions have caused severe fuel shortages in Syria, which has been relying mostly on Iranian oil shipments that have been subjected to mysterious attacks over the past two years. Syria has blamed Israel for the attacks.

“The leadership of the two countries will together take mighty steps to confront economic terrorism and reduce pressure on our people,” Amir-Abdollahian said at the airport. He did not say how the two countries will fight the sanctions.

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Syria comes a day after he represented Iran in a conference attended by officials from around the Middle East aimed at easing regional tensions.

Amir-Abdollahian described Syria as the “land of resistance,” adding that Damascus and Tehran had worked together “on the ground and achieved joint victories.”