President Ebrahim Raeisi in separate phone calls with his Turkish and Syrian counterparts reaffirmed Iran’s support for the two countries hit by devastating earthquakes, noting that Tehran will stand by them at this difficult juncture.
Speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, Raeisi offered his condolences over the deadly earthquake and voiced sympathy with the Turkish government and nation.
“Iran and Turkey are friends and brothers in addition to being neighbors. The Iranian nation and government stand by the Turkish government and nation at this difficult juncture,” he said.
He also said the Islamic Republic is ready to immediately meet Turkey’s relief needs, expressing hope that the suffering of the Turkish people would soon be alleviated through its government’s endeavors.
Erdogan, for his part, appreciated Raeisi’s goodwill and sympathy with the Turkish government and nation.
“This is the biggest earthquake in Turkey in the past 50 years,” he said, expressing hope that initial search and rescue missions will end soon.
A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria early Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people and reducing many buildings to rubble.
Rescue workers are still working in freezing temperatures to find those still trapped under debris with the latest death toll nearing 8,400.
The huge earthquake brought down whole apartment blocks in Turkish cities and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war.
In another phone call on Tuesday, the Iranian president talked to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
Raeisi offered his condolences to the “Syrian brothers and sisters” over the earthquake, saying, “The Islamic Republic has always stood by the Syrian nation and government at difficult times and it is now ready to provide immediate relief to the Syrian victims of the earthquake.”
Assad, for his part, thanked Raeisi for his call and sympathy with Syria.
Damascus, he added, wants to benefit from the Islamic Republic’s experiences and capabilities in order to improve relief efforts in Syria, which was hit by its first earthquake in the past 250 years.
Raeisi agreed to Assad’s request to use Iran’s experiences in dealing with natural disasters, including earthquakes, and to send a technical team to Syria.
Meanwhile, the first Iranian plane carrying humanitarian aid landed at Damascus International Airport in the early hours of Tuesday to help the quake-stricken Syrian people.
The plane contained 45 tons of medical, food and sanitary aid.
Iran’s Ambassador to Damascus Mehdi Sobhani, who was present at the airport, said Tehran would send more planes carrying aid relief to Syria.
Tehran has also called on the international community to exert pressure on the United States in order to lift its sanctions on Syria to facilitate the delivery of international aid.
“The important point is that different countries must exert pressure on the US government to lift the cruel siege of Syria so that international humanitarian aid can be delivered to the quake-stricken people of Syria without any obstacles in the shortest possible time,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said in an interview with Mehr news agency.
The United States invaded Syria in 2014 at the head of scores of its allies under the pretext of fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. The US-led coalition has maintained its presence, despite the fact that it was Syria and its allies, including Iran and Russia, who defeated the Takfiri terrorist outfit in late 2017.
The US government has also imposed sweeping economic sanctions against Syria amid the Arab nation’s uphill battle for reconstruction and recovery.
The restrictive measures have blocked imports of essential goods, affecting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, heating, gas, and electricity.