Ouster of Syria’s Assad before elections unacceptable: Iran

Tehran, April 10 (IANS) Iran will not accept the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before the next presidential elections in the country, a senior adviser to Iran’s top leader was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“Iran believes that the government of Bashar al-Assad should remain in power until the end of his presidency term and the removal of Assad is a redline for us,” Xinhua quoted Ali Akbar Velayati, the advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international affairs, as saying.

Velayati dismissed the pressures on Assad’s removal by the outsiders, saying that only the Syrian people can decide the future of their country.

The US authorities cannot tolerate Iran’s influence in countries like Iraq and Syria, he said, adding: “At the request of these governments (Iraq and Syria), we support them against terrorists and it is none of Americans’ business to say anything in this regard.”

“Whether the Americans accept it or not, the time for their presence in the region is over,” he said.

The US is behind the creation of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in the region, he added.

Tehran has emerged as a staunch regional ally of Damascus in the country’s long-running conflict, and has said that its military advisers provide assistance to Syria in its fight against terrorism.

Earlier this month, Iran said it had deployed ground force commandos in Syria for an advisory mission.

Other units of the Iranian army ground forces had also dispatched advisers to Syria, said Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force for Coordination Brigadier General Ali Arasteh said.

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