The agreement cements Iran's presence in the war-torn country
Iran and Syria sign defence and technical deal
Iran and Syria have signed a military co-operation and reconstruction agreement in the war-torn country, Iranian state media Tasnim reported on Monday.
Tehran's Defence Minister Amir Hatami is on the second day of a two-day visit to Damascus, during which he held "detailed negotiations" with his counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, according to Tasnim.
"Syria is passing through the crisis stage and entering the reconstruction phase," Mr Hatami said, adding that the "defence and technical agreement" provides for the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria.
Iranian forces have backed Mr Al Assad's government in the country's seven-year civil war.
“We hope to have a productive role in the reconstruction of Syria,” Iran’s semi-official Fars News agency quoted Mr Hatami as saying.
Washington has repeatedly criticised Tehran and its ally, Hezbollah, for their involvement in Syria. US national adviser John Bolton said last week that Iran should withdraw forces from the country.
Israel has also expressed significant concern over Iranian government and proxy forces operating near the occupied Golan Heights – they have struck dozens of Hezbollah and Iranian military targets in Syria, killing high-ranking members of both organisations.
Officials in Tehran say that their military presence in Syria is at the invitation of the government and they have no immediate plans to withdraw.