Tehran, Iran — Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Iran’s supreme leader in the capital Tehran on Thursday and expressed his condolences over the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, state media reported Thursday.

Assad met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and also expressed condolences over the death of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian who was also killed in the helicopter crash earlier this month.

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber was present in that meeting.

Assad’s trip took place as Iran opened a five-day registration period Thursday for hopefuls wanting to run in the June 28 presidential election to replace the late Raisi.

Iran has been the No. 1 regional supporter of Assad in that Arab nation’s lengthy civil war. Hundreds of Iranian forces have been killed in the war though Tehran has long said it has only a military advisory role in Syria.

Assad’s trip also comes with the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war roiling the region. Iran-backed Hamas led the Oct. 7 attack that started the conflict and the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon, also supported by Tehran, has fired rockets at Israel. Last month, Iran launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel.

Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others were found dead at the site of a helicopter crash after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest.

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