Iran denies having forces in Syria to support Assad


iran revolutionary guardsIran, the strongest supporter of the Syrian regime, denied on Friday that it had forces in war-torn Syria supporting embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Iran’s statement came a day after nations gathering at the Friends of Syria meeting in Amman called for an immediate withdrawal of fighters belonging to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and Iran from Syria.

“The true enemies of Syria make up these accusations to provoke the people of this country,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said, quoted by Iranian state television.

On Wednesday, Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Alireza Bikdeli also downplayed the question when asked by Today’s Zaman to comment on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claims that suggested Iran is participating in the fighting in Syria with the forces loyal to Assad.

Speaking on his return from a visit to the US, the prime minister said on Tuesday that Hezbollah and others are involved in fighting alongside forces loyal to Assad and slammed his critics for turning a blind eye to that.

Erdoğan’s statement came as Hezbollah fighters joined the Syrian soldiers and militiamen loyal to Assad during fighting over the weekend in the opposition stronghold of Qusair, a town close to the Lebanese border.

The downfall of Assad’s regime in Syria is expected to deal a critical blow to the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis. Hezbollah in Lebanon would have much greater difficulty obtaining Iranian military and financial support, while Iran would be disconnected from a valuable ally in Lebanon.

Hezbollah, which in the past has received military and financial support from Syria and Iran, has strongly supported the Assad regime politically, as has Iran.

Iranian politics have been influential in Syria, especially through Hezbollah.