Iran: “Insistence on Assad’s removal is Israel’s dictate”
Baku, Azerbaijan, March 15
By Fatih Karimov - Trend:
The insistence of Saudi Arabia and Syrian opposition groups on removal of President Bashar Assad is dictated by Israel, claims Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, Iranian armed forces' chief of staff.
A nation's leader can only be elected by the nation's vote, Firouzabadi said, adding the insistence on dismissing or appointing a leader for another country is an anti-democratic demand, Fars news agency reported March 15.
He further said that Assad's removal will lead to the spread of terrorism by the "Islamic State" (IS, aka ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group.
"Dismissing Assad will result in a Takfiri government in Syria," the Iranian commander further claimed.
Iranian officials refer to the extremist Sunni armed groups, in particular in Syria and Iraq, as Takfiri.
Syrian opposition says Assad must leave power, dead or alive, if the peace talks to end the five-year civil war are to succeed.
The UN-brokered talks are underway in Geneva in the latest international push to end the conflict, which has so far killed more than 270,000 people.
Tehran has always expressed support for the Syrian government since it views the Assad regime as its main strategic ally in the region and as a part of the "axis of resistance" against Israel.
Western countries accuse Iran of running military operations in Syria, but Tehran denies these accusations. Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that they only provide military consultations to the Syrian forces.