Clinton: 'Iran is supporting Syrian assaults on protesters'

US secretary of state releases statement after Iran accuses "America and the Zionist regime" of meddling in Syria.

hillary clinton_311 reuters (photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
hillary clinton_311 reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement Tuesday that compared the Iranian protests of 2009 to the recent unrest in Syria and the government crackdowns on protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Two years ago this week, Iranian citizens went to the polls in the hopes of expressing their democratic rights. But the authorities in Tehran had no interest in the will of the people. When the people reached for their aspirations, the government responded with brutal repression," Clinton said. "Today in Syria, Iran is supporting the Assad regime’s vicious assaults on peaceful protesters and military actions against its own cities."
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She also reiterated the US government's desire to seek an end to the conflict by adding, "As we work with the international community to increase the pressure on Assad and his regime, let us renew our resolve to stand with citizens - including the citizens of Syria and Iran - who yearn to be free and to exercise their universal rights."
Clinton's statement follows Tuesday's accusations by Iran that Israel's allies are interfering in Syria after Western countries said Tehran may be helping crush dissent there.
"Some regimes, especially America and the Zionist regime, with particular aims, are provoking terrorist groups in Syria and in the region to carry out terrorist and sabotage operations," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference.
Iran, which crushed its own anti-government protests after the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, has voiced support for uprisings in most of the Arab world, but not Syria with which it has what it sees as a "line of resistance" against Israel as both support Hamas and Hezbollah.
Mehmanparast backed the Syrian government's assertions that the three-month-old protests are part of a conspiracy backed by foreign powers.
"The Zionist regime and its advocates are seriously threatened, that is why they are doing all they can to crush this resistance line standing against the aggression of the Zionist regime."
Britain has said there is "credible information suggesting Iran is helping Syria with the suppression of protests there, including through the provision of expertise and equipment," a charge Tehran denied.
Syrian rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed since the start of the uprising. One group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says more than 300 soldiers and police have also been killed.
"What is happening inside Syria is an internal issue. The government and the people of Syria are politically mature enough to resolve their own issues," Mehmanparast said.
The spokesman warned against any overt military action by the West.
"We think that the Americans in no way have the right to have any military interference in any country within the region, namely Syria. We acknowledge this as a wrong act ... which can have consequences for the region," he said.
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