Syria's President Bashar al-Assad meets with Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's acting foreign minister, in Damascus, Syria June 4, 2024. REUTERS./

 – Iran’s acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday and discussed Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.

Bagheri Kani travelled to Syria after meetings in Beirut on Monday, his first trip abroad since becoming Iran’s acting top diplomat following the deaths of his predecessor and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

ANALYSIS: Was the Death of Raisi An Accident or An Act of Sabotage? 

He also met Palestinian factions at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, as his predecessor had. Iran backs Palestinian armed groups including Hamas, which launched the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli territory that triggered the Gaza conflict.

At a joint press conference alongside Mekdad, Bagheri Kani said the pair had discussed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid without conditions.

Bagheri Kani was then received by Assad on Tuesday afternoon to discuss bilateral ties between the two close allies and “developments in the occupied Palestinian territories”, according to Assad’s office.

In his day-long visit to Beirut, Bagheri Kani met his Lebanese counterpart, other Lebanese officials and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of powerful armed group Hezbollah which is the spearhead of Iran’s network in the region.

Assad met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on May 30 to offer condolences for the death of Raisi.

(Reporting by Kinda Makieh and Firas Makdesi; writing by Maya Gebeily; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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