Israel fires Patriot missile at second drone from Syria this week

Syria from Israel's northern border

Velayati said that he would deliver messages from Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking to reporters upon arrival in Moscow on Wednesday, Ali Akbar Velayati lauded Tehran-Moscow relations as "strategic", expressing hope that his visit would be a turning point in bilateral ties. The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme.

Velayati is in Russian Federation as a special adviser to President Hassan Rouhani and will travel to China on Friday, so the same request has also been made to Chinese authorities, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday that the letters are aimed at "emphasizing the importance of expanded relations between Iran and Russia".

As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad overcomes one of the last bastions of a 2011 uprising backed by the West, Turkey and Gulf Arab states, neighboring Israel has increasingly warned against perceived violations of the 1974 non-aggression pact between the two warring governments under the auspices of the United Nations. "Only a strategic and long-term relationship (with Russia) can continue this cooperation", said Velayati, who was also due to meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow. "Therefore, it is necessary that the cooperation [between Iran and Russia] be increased", Velayati said.

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Facing revived sanctions from the United States and the possible knock-on collapse of its business dealings with Europe, Iran is looking to Russian Federation and China for investment and to purchase its oil. Asked about Netanyahu's visit, Velayati said: "His presence or absence in Russian Federation has no effect on our strategic mission in Moscow".

Amir-Abollahian said Netanyahu was likely to ask for Putin's help to push Iran's military advisers out of Syria but added that this was an issue that could only be decided between Tehran and Damascus.

According to The New Yorker, Israel has joined forces with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and suggested to Trump that the USA should offer to cancel the sanctions it imposed on Russia four years ago, following Russia's annexation of the Crimea, in exchange for Russian action to remove Iranian forces from Syria.

Trump and Putin are expected to discuss Iran's regional role and the Syrian conflict at a summit in Helsinki next Monday.

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