New Iran president backs Syria's Assad, Hezbollah

Associated Press
FILE - In this Monday, June 17, 2013 file photo, Iranian President-elect Hasan Rouhani, places his hand on his heart as a sign of respect, after speaking at a news conference, in Tehran, Iran. Rouhani on Monday leveled his first criticism of the outgoing administration since June's election, saying it has mismanaged the country's economy. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president-elect has sent messages to Syria's Bashar Assad and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, reaffirming support for the two allies.

The official IRNA news agency on Tuesday cited Hasan Rouhani as saying close Iranian-Syrian ties will be able to confront "enemies in the region, especially the Zionist regime," or Israel.

Rouhani says Syria will "overcome its current crisis."

The note was in response to Assad's congratulatory message on Rouhani's June election. Tehran has sided with Assad's regime in Syria's civil war.

Rouhani also wrote to Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, saying Iran backs the "steadfast nation" of Lebanon and the Palestinians, a reference to the militant Hamas group.

The notes reflect Rouhani's intentions to emphasize links to Iran's key regional allies even as he urges for greater outreach to the West.