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Fighters from the Free Syrian Army run during heavy fighting in Mleha suburb of Damascus, Jan 25, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

DUBAI: Iran would consider any attack on Syria an attack on itself, a senior government official was quoted as saying on Saturday, in one of Tehran's most assertive defences of its ally yet.

Iran is a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who is fighting a near two-year-long revolt. Tehran has already repeatedly warned the West against intervening in the conflict against Assad.

“Syria has a very basic and key role in the region for promoting firm policies of resistance...for this reason an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran's allies,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the Mehr news agency.

Tehran sees Damascus as part of an axis of opposition to Israeli and Western influence in the Middle East.

In September, an Iranian military official was quoted as saying Iran would take action if the United States was to attack Syria.

Shia Muslim power Iran and Syria, whose leader follows an offshoot of Shia Islam, signed a mutual defence pact in 2006, but little is known of its details or whether there are any other signatories.

Iran accuses Western powers and regional states of supporting and arming the Syrian rebels, while the rebels accuse Iran of sending fighters from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to help Assad crush the uprising.

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Comments (2) Closed

Jan 26, 2013 02:32pm
Assad regime is the only one arab neighbor did not bow down to us and israel. that is the reason, they plot a game with the help of their puppet, qatar, saudia and turkey to incite civil war in this country.
Jan 26, 2013 01:23pm
why bring up the reference to shia? Syria is majority sunni, yet the sunni world is quiet, whilst the oil rich arabs arm the opposition. the muslim world should not be taking sides but forcing the two to compromise. It leaves Iran to defend the Syrians against the west and its local dictatorships in Saudi and Qatar, who seem to believe in democracy for syria, but not for Saudi or qatar.