Rohani Will Continue Iran’s Help for Assad, Says Lawmaker

Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rohani will not change the country’s policy of supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, according to a member of the Iranian parliament.

“The tactics may change but the strategic aims will not change,” said Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, in a telephone interview from Tehran, describing Syria, Iran and Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah as part of a “resistance front” opposing Israel. “We don’t want Syria to leave the resistance front.”

In a joint press conference U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country help the rebels defend themselves. The Syrian army, strengthened by Hezbollah fighters captured the strategic central town of al-Qusair, gaining the upper hand.

The U.S. and 10 other nations pledged Saturday to increase their support for the rebel forces, without providing details. Kerry has called on Iran to pull its forces out of Syria.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it documented the deaths of more than 100,000 people, including 50,200 civilians, in the country since March 2011.

“This is mini-world war, with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on one side and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the U.S. and Israel on the other,” Bakhshayesh said. “The Syrian civil war has become a proxy war between Iran and the U.S.”

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