Monday, June 27, 2011

Iran Denies EU Charges Linking Revolutionary Guards to Syria Crackdown

Iran on Sunday reiterated that it does not interfere in the affairs of its regional Arab ally Syria and accused the European Union of leading a "baseless" campaign against Tehran by imposing sanctions.

"The baseless EU claims in connecting events in Syria to the Revolutionary Guards reveal the bloc's efforts to create a campaign against the Islamic republic and to distort reality," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi also told reporters on Sunday that "Syrians are capable of resolving their issues."

The EU imposed sanctions on three Revolutionary Guard commanders, including its chief Brigadier Mohammad Ali Jafari, accusing them of aiding the crackdown in Syria, the EU's Official Journal showed on Friday.

Jafari was hit by an assets freeze and travel ban for "providing equipment and support to help the Syria regime suppress protests in Syria," the Journal said.

The same accusations were lodged against Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Guards' Qods unit, and Hossein Taeb, deputy commander for intelligence.

In contrast to its vocal support for uprisings that have swept the Arab world, Iran has been cautious in its stance on the anti-regime protests in Syria.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 1,342 civilians have been killed in the government's crackdown and 342 security force personnel have also lost their lives since it erupted mid-March.

Ankara estimates that some 12,000 Syrians have fled across the border to seek refuge in Turkey.

Earlier this month, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned Tehran's arch-foe the United States for "meddling" in Syria. Tehran has also accused the foreign media of exaggeration in their reports of events in Syria.

Washington and Syrian opposition groups have accused Tehran of helping President Bashar al-Assad violently repress the uprising.

Officials have repeatedly denied allegations of Iranian involvement, and said the events in Syria are being fomented by Israel and Washington to weaken the Damascus regime which, like Iran, remains a staunch opponent of the Jewish state.



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