Why Iran is standing by its weakened, and expensive, ally Syria

Iran already spends $35 billion a year to prop up the Assad regime, according to one estimate. Iranian officials say Syria is of supreme strategic importance.

Mohamad Bayoush/Reuters

Iran has proven critical in helping keep President Bashar al-Assad in power after four years of bloody war, dispatching thousands of soldiers and paramilitary fighters to bolster Syria’s flagging army and billions of dollars in loans to prop up its economy.