PARIS - Arab countries are sending mercenaries to Syria to thwart any chance of a negotiated settlement to end President Bashar Assad's crackdown on a year-long uprising against his rule, Iran's ambassador to France said on Thursday.
Iran, a close ally of Assad's government, was initially very supportive of the way the Syrian authorities were putting down the uprising, but has lately been saying that Assad should enact reforms that take account of popular grievances.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Paris, Iran's newly appointed envoy, Ali Ahani, accused certain Arab countries of financing and supplying weapons to those opposing Assad.
"We have information about money, weapons and mercenaries that are being sent there to disrupt things," the former deputy foreign minister said, declining to say where the mercenaries were coming from.
"There is information that certain Arab countries have sent them (mercenaries)and been financed by the United States and even Israel," he added, without naming the Arab states.
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