DAMASCUS: Tehran will continue to back Syria under President Bashar al-Assad, which acts as a pillar of an Iranian-led regional alliance, top envoy Saeed Jalili said in Damascus on Tuesday.

“Iran will never allow the resistance axis — of which Syria is an essential pillar — to break,” said Jalili, a top aide to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“What is happening in Syria is not an internal issue but a conflict between the axis of resistance on the one hand, and the regional and global enemies of this axis on the other,” he added.

Iran has accused Turkey and Gulf countries of arming the opposition in Syria, in collusion with the United States and Israel, to overthrow the regime of Tehran's key ally, Assad.

Jalili was previously cited by Iran's Al-Alam television station as saying “the crisis in Syria must be solved internally, through national dialogue, and not through the intervention of external forces”.

He added: “The Syrian people are hostile to any plan supported by the Zionists and the US.”

In the same meeting, Assad said he was determined to crush the 17-month rebellion against his regime and cleanse the country of “terrorists,” according to state news agency SANA.

“The Syrian people and their government are determined to purge the country of terrorists and to fight terrorism without respite,” Assad told Jalili.

Assad said his country “is able to defeat foreign plans targeting the resistance axis and Syria's role in it.—AFP

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