Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran on 23 November 2015 Handout/Reuters

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran and called for "closer ties" between the two countries. He said that US policies in the Middle East posed a greater threat to Moscow and Tehran.

US and Russia are at loggerheads over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US and its allies want Assad removed, while Russia and Iran want him to remain in power.

"America's long-term scheme for the [Middle East] region is detrimental to all nations and countries, particularly Iran and Russia, and it should be thwarted through vigilance and closer interaction," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on his official website, on 23 November.

"The Americans and their followers on the issue of Syria are determined to realise the objectives, which they failed to realize militarily, in the political arena and at the negotiating table, which this attempt must be vigilantly and actively blocked," Khamenei added.

After the Islamic State (Isis) carried out terror attacks in Paris killing 130 people, world powers including US and Russia held a meeting in Vienna this month, wherein it was decided that a political process would be initiated in Syria. Subsequently, elections would be held in the war-torn country within the next two years. However, differences remained over Assad's future in the country's politics.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has said that it only wanted a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. "It's somewhat of a continuation of a pattern that we've seen from the supreme leader in terms of ... over-the-top rhetoric about the United States and our intentions," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Syria is embroiled in a civil war with rebel groups fighting against Assad's army, while the IS has taken control of vast swaths of Syrian territory, which reportedly is being used to develop chemical weapons. However, the US does not believe that IS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons.