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Media Watch | Iran's Alleged Role in Syrian Massacre


01 Jun 2012 02:59Comments

houla729-420x0.jpg[ in focus ] On May 29, the United States charged that Iran played a role in the weekend massacre of more than 100 Syrians, including dozens of children, in the northern city of Houla. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said a commander of Iran's elite Quds Force was "bragging" about its support of the Shabiha militia that allegedly carried out the attack.

Iranian officials countered that the Syrian opposition was behind the deaths of civilians generally--and that its presence and influence in Syria had helped contain the scope of carnage. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the attack had been carried out "to create chaos and instability" in Syria "to block the way to a peaceful resolution." The following are recent quotes from U.S. and Iranian officials.

The United States

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nunland, May 29 Press Briefing

"The Iranians have clearly provided support and training and advice to the Syrian army, but this shabiha thug force mirrors the same force that the Iranians used. The Basiji and the shabiha are the same type of thing, and clearly reflects the tactics and the techniques that the Iranians used for their own suppression of civil rights...

"It's Assad and his regime who created this shabiha force to begin with. It very much models the Iranian Basiji model, where they hire young guys to indiscriminately wreak vengeance and do this kind of hand-to-hand violence. Whether he actually signed an order or whether he's simply responsible for creating the force, giving it the kind of free will and impunity that allows this kind of thing to happen, it barely matters...

"Over the weekend we had the deputy head of the Qods Force saying publicly that they were proud of the role that they had played in training and assisting the Syrian forces; and look what this has wrought... We just find it interesting that it was on this very weekend that the deputy head of the Qods Force decided to take credit for the advice that they're giving to Syria.


Ismail Ghani, deputy head of Quds Force, May 28 interview with Iranian Students News Agency

"If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened on a much larger scale... Before our presence in Syria, too many people were killed by the opposition but with the physical and non-physical presence of the Islamic Republic, big massacres in Syria were prevented."

Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, May 29 on Press TV

"We do not interfere in Syria's internal affairs but we support Syria as the resistance front against Israel because one of our principles is the issue of Palestine...We have encouraged the country's government to implement reforms and listen to its people's demands."

Iranian Majles (parliament), May 29 Official Statement

"The barbaric massacre of the innocent people of Houla, in Homs, is reminiscent of the merciless terrorist atrocities in Sabra and Shatila [in Lebanon in 1982] and is a blatant symbol of terrorist acts and mass murder in this juncture of human history."

"The U.S. should be held accountable for its incorrect policies in Syria."

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, May 29 press conference

"We palpably feel the Zionist regime's hand in Syria's internal developments... Any crime committed [in Syria] can be traced back to the regime's hirelings.

Mehmanparast on Press TV, May 28

"We are certain that foreign interference, terrorist and suspicious measures which have targeted the resilient Syrian people are doomed to fail... The attack has been carried out in order to create chaos and instability in Syria and its perpetrators are trying to block the way to a peaceful resolution."

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a March 30 meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

"Iran will defend Syria because it supports its policy of resistance against the Zionist regime [Israel], and is strongly opposed to any interference by foreign forces in Syria's internal affairs...

This article is presented by Tehran Bureau, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as part of the Iran project at iranprimer.usip.org.

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