Beirut - Iran assured President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday that Syria was a vital partner in its regional anti-Israeli alliance, a bond that would not be broken by a rebellion it said was backed by the two countries' common enemies.

“Iran will not allow the axis of resistance, of which it considers Syria to be an essential part, to be broken in any way,” Syrian state television quoted Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as telling Assad.

Jalili's meeting with Assad, shown on Syrian TV, was the first broadcast footage of the president in two weeks. Assad has been shown on television only twice since a July 18 bombing which killed four members of his inner circle, the biggest single blow he has suffered during an armed insurgency.

Jalili said the 17-month uprising was not a domestic matter for Syria but a “conflict between the axis of resistance and its enemies in the region and the world”.

The “axis of resistance” refers to Iran's alliance with Syria and Lebanon's Shi'ite group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, with Iranian and Syrian support. It also includes some Palestinian militant groups.

Assad reiterated his determination to defeat the rebels, affirming “the Syrian people and government's determination to cleanse the country of terrorists,” the TV report said. - Reuters