US using truce as a pretext to oust Assad: Iran official
A senior Iranian official has warned about US intentions in Syria, saying Washington is using an existing ceasefire as a pretext to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.
“The Americans’ objective in supporting ceasefire in Syria is not benign, and their main aim is to change the legitimate government in the country,” Ali-Akbar Velayati told reporters in Tehran Tuesday.
Velayati is a top adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. He visited Syria last year and met with President Assad.
“The Americans failed to remove Bashar Assad through the war waged by their proxies. They have now taken the issue to the UN Security Council and decided that Assad must not remain in power and a hand-picked American regime is installed,” he said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is absolutely opposed to the Americans’ plan,” Velayati added.
The Iranian official said, “Any decision about the Syrian government must come with the will of the country’s people, and not the UN and other governments.”
‘Plan B meant to undermine peace’
On Monday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov condemned a so-called plan B on Syria suggested by the US, terming it an attempt designed to undermine the peace process in the crisis-hit Arab country.
Washington has said if the Syrian ceasefire deal that the US and Russia agreed to last month falters, it will resort to what it called Plan B options.
“As for plan B, we know that our American colleagues and especially their security agencies would devise various scenarios in case of this or that development,” Ryabkov said.
Talks on plan B are “an unfair game,” Ryabkov said, arguing that the goals of such speculations are contrary to the agreement that Moscow and Washington arrived at on February 22.
“Those who spread this information pursue a clear goal — to disrupt the process that has begun,” the senior Russian diplomat pointed out.
Ryabkow further hailed Iran’s role in the settlement of Syrian conflict as positive.
“Iran’s role is positive. We have no grounds whatsoever to question this,” he said, adding that Iran is behaving very responsibly with regard to the Syrian crisis as it promotes the implementation of the agreements reached within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions.
He highlighted that it is up to the Syrian people to decide about Assad’s place in future Syria.
“We have always said and will continue to say that Syria’s future is to be decided by the Syrians. Since 2012, Russia has been insistently, despite all the attempts to frustrate our efforts, doing its best to launch political process,” he noted.
The news about Washington’s “plan B” on Syria comes as a Saudi official says the kingdom and the US discussed the possibility of a ground incursion in Syria two weeks ago but they have not made a decision.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.