The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad accepted a $1 billion line of credit from Iran, according the state run news agency SANA.
The money is the second credit line extended by Iran, which previously lent Assad $1 billion in 2013. That money is now running out.
The agreement was signed between the state-owned Syrian Commerical Bank and the Export Development Bank of Iran. Both are state owned.
CNN reported the money is to “buy goods and fund projects.”
The news of the credit extension came as it was revealed Iran stands to receive $100 billion from sanctions relief should a nuclear deal be signed.
It is feared the money Iran will have access to through sanctions relief will enable Iran to pour far greater resources into supporting Assad and terrorist groups throughout the region
A U.S. State Department official told the Daily Beast “We are of course aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions.”
The unnamed official added “the U.S. sees Iran clearly for what it is: the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism; a supporter of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas; a backer of the Assad regime’s brutality in Syria; and a force for instability in Yemen.”
Iran supports the Syrian regime both directly and through its proxy Hezbollah. Major-General Qassem Suleimani of the elite Quds Force was dispatched several times to Damascus to oversee military operations and raise paramilitary forces, although with mixed success.
The Iranians repeatedly pledged unending support to Assad, which they have so far provided. Syria is a key ally for the Islamic republic and Assad’s fall would be a serious blow to its strategic interests.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, said: “A rich and strong Iran…will be able to stand by its allies and friends, and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.”
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, commented during a visit to Israel “I think [the Iranians] will invest in their surrogates; I think they will invest in additional military capability.”
Executive Director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz was blunter about Iranian funding for regional war. He told Bloomberg “When you give bad people bad money, they use it for bad things.”
To learn more about Iranian efforts to secure regional hegemony through support of terrorist groups, see Clarion Project’s Factsheet: Iranian Regional Hegemony.