Militants must leave Syria: Iran’s Zarif

347580_Mohammad-Javad-ZarifIran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the withdrawal of all foreign-backed militants from Syria, saying the Syrian people should be allowed to determine their own destiny without foreign interference.

“I can ask all foreign forces to withdraw… to allow the Syrian people to decide their own future,” Zarif told a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.

Foreign forces should stop funding and supplying weapons to militants in Syria, said the top Iranian diplomat.

He also stated that any military option to end the Syrian crisis should be off the table.

Zarif further dismissed claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of preparing the ground for terrorists to enter the country.

“Extremism is a product of foreign intervention and product of short-sightedness. Those who created the Taliban [in Afghanistan] ended up paying their blood for what they have created. The flames that have been created in our region will engulf everybody,” Zarif said.

He emphasized that those who are calling on President Assad to step down are responsible for the crisis in the Middle East region, which has caused innumerable deaths.

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Swiss TV station RTS on the sidelines of the WEF that the fate of Syria needs to be determined solely by the Syrian people, rejecting any foreign interference in the future of the Arab country.

“I believe that only Syrian people are allowed to decide and nobody else can pass a judgment on the future of Syria,” President Rouhani said.

“Decision-making is for the Syrian people to do and they are the ones who should determine their own future, and in doing so, the first condition is that bloodshed be stopped and certain countries give up supporting terrorism,” the Iranian president added.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly crisis since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside the country.

The UN says more than four million Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict in the country that has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions so far.

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