NEW YORK - Western and Arab demands for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad have fueled years of unnecessary bloodshed as they have prevented negotiations on a political settlement, Iran's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Iran's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also rejected suggestions that Islamic State militants have been able to attract new recruits because of abuses by Assad's military in the four-year-long civil war.
"People who are accusing the government of Syria, and who are saying the government of Syria has the blood of so many people on its hands should go back and do a bit of soul-searching and tell themselves what prevented a ceasefire in Syria a few years ago," said Zarif, who is in New York for a U.N. meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
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