Iran protests over U.K. claim of Syria support


Iran summoned Britain’s top diplomat in Tehran Thursday over an “unfounded” suggestion Iran was helping Syria quash pro-democracy protests.

“The remarks of Britain’s foreign secretary [William Hague] are completely unfounded and based on a series of lies,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry told British Charge d’Affaires Jane Marriott, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Hague told Britain’s Parliament this week Tehran was helping suppress anti-regime protests. He also said London had “credible information” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime had provided paramilitary training to Syrian security forces.

“Britain’s government is not qualified to make such comments about other countries because of [its] interfering measures and destructive role in the region’s developments,” the news agency quoted the ministry as saying.

Marriott was also informed of Tehran’s strong criticism over what the ministry described as London’s interference in Iran’s internal affairs as well as its “double standard” on recent Arab developments.

The British diplomat said she would convey Iran’s “strong protest” to London, the agency said.

London had no independent confirmation of the meeting.

Hundreds more Syrians fled into Turkey from the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shoughour Thursday, Turkish officials said as residents anticipated a severe crackdown by the Assad regime in retaliation for the purported killing of 120 police and security officers early Monday by “armed gangs” of civilians.

Turkish authorities set up a second refugee camp and promised to keep the border with Syria open, The New York Times reported.

Ankara called on President Bashar Assad to allow peaceful demonstrations and to carry out reforms.

U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Syria Thursday from Geneva to stop the “assault on its own people.”