Assad's overthrow "red line" for Iran: supreme leader's aide

DUBAI Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:12pm IST

Two boys tear a poster of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the army base at Hawa village, north Aleppo December 23, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/Files

Two boys tear a poster of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the army base at Hawa village, north Aleppo December 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah/Files

Related Topics

DUBAI (Reuters) - A senior aide to Iran's supreme leader warned against the overthrow of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, saying his fate was a "red line", in one of the Islamic state's strongest messages of support for the Damascus government.

Iran has steadfastly backed Assad's rule since an uprising against his rule began almost two years ago and regards him as an important part of the axis of opposition against arch-foe Israel.

"If the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken," Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran's June presidential election, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"We believe that there should be reforms emanating from the will of the Syrian people, but without resorting to violence and obtaining assistance from the (United States of) America," he told Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen satellite television.

Asked if Iran sees Assad as a red line, Velayati said: "Yes, it is so. But this does not mean that we ignore the Syrian people's right in choose its own rulers."

More than 60,000 people have died in the uprising against Assad, part of the Arab Spring protests that have swept aside four heads of state since 2011.

Iran, a regional Shi'ite Muslim power which backs Lebanon's Hezbollah group, describes many Syrian opposition groups as "terrorists" who are backed by Western and Arab states. Assad follows an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

Velayati blamed what he called "reactionary" Arab states for the violence in Syria and singled out Qatar, accusing it of bringing in fighters from Somalia and Afghanistan to help topple Assad.

Velayati said all parties linked to the crisis in Syria needed to negotiate.

"Anyone who comes to the talks cannot negotiate on the table and support the armed elements, but must enter the negotiations and stop supporting the armed elements," he added.

The Islamic Republic has sought international backing for its six-point plan to resolve the Syrian conflict. The plan calls for an immediate end to violence and negotiations between all parties to form a transitional government, but does not call for Assad to step down.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

FILED UNDER:

Ferguson Unrest

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Oil Prices Fall

Oil Prices Fall

Brent near four-year low after OPEC decides against output cut  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

India says considering plan to reduce stake to 52 pct in state banks   Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Fiscal Deficit

Fiscal Deficit

April-October fiscal deficit nears 90 pct of full-year target  Full Article 

SAARC Summit

SAARC Summit

Summit salvaged after handshake by leaders of India, Pakistan  Full Article 

Social Media

Social Media

Twitter to start tracking users' mobile apps  Full Article 

Forever21 in India

Forever21 in India

Forever21 sets sights on Indian cities, but please hold the hot pants  Full Article 

Japan Economy

Japan Economy

Japan inflation slows in October, output and spending show signs of recovery  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage