In his first trip outside Syria to a regional ally, Bashar al-Assad paid a visit to Iran. The embattled leader met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Assad is accused of using chemical weapons against his own people. From the beginning of the 2011 uprising until the present time, estimates of those killed are roughly more than 500,000 people, including women and children. However, even those estimates are considered far too low, according to the United Nations and various human right’s organizations.

Further, Assad, whose nation was also the hub for ISIS,  thanked Khamenei and Rouhani for the support Iran gave him during eight years of civil war. He touted Iran’s support as a main reason for him not losing Syria.

A tweet from the Syrian Presidency reads:

“After meeting Mr. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on his work visit to the Iranian capital today. The President al-Assad meets Hassan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who expressed satisfaction with the strategic level of relations between the two countries at various levels.”