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Iran steps up broadsides against US, while Syria signals Iran won't leave

  • Published at 09:06 pm May 23rd, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:40 am May 24th, 2018
2018-05-23_IRAN-NUCLEAR-KHAMENEI
A woman carries a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at an event marking Resistance and Liberation Day in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, May 25, 2017 Reuters

A senior Iranian military official said Iran would not bow to Washington's pressure to limit its military activities

Iran on Wednesday launched a fresh barrage of criticism at US demands for sweeping change in its foreign policy and nuclear program, and Tehran's ally Damascus flatly dismissed a US call for a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said the US government would be defeated like Iraq's deposed leader Saddam Hussein if it attacked Iran, Iranian state TV reported.

France, one of several European powers dismayed by the US withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear accord, said Washington's method of adding more sanctions on Tehran would reinforce the country's dominant hardliners.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday threatened Iran with "the strongest sanctions in history" if it did not curb its regional influence, accusing Tehran of supporting armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Pompeo was speaking two weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran that had lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. European powers see the accord as the best chance of stopping Tehran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Pompeo had repeated old allegations against Tehran "only with a stronger and more indecent tone."

"Mr Pompeo and other US officials in the current administration are prisoners of their wrong illusions, prisoners of their past and have been taken hostage by corrupt pressure groups," he told state television.

A senior Iranian military official, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, said Iran would not bow to Washington's pressure to limit its military activities. The United States "does not have the courage for military confrontation and face-to-face war with Iran," he said.

The elite Guard said in a statement: "The American leaders ... have got this message that if they attack Iran, they will encounter a fate similar to that of Saddam Hussein."

‘Endangering the region’

In Damascus, Syria's deputy foreign minister dismissed the notion of a withdrawal of Iranian forces.

In Syria's seven-year-old conflict, Iran has provided vital support to President Bashar al-Assad's military. Its forces and the militias it backs from the region, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, helped Damascus claw back control of major cities from militants and rebels.

"Whether Iranian forces or Hezbollah withdraw or stay in Syria is not up for discussion because it's the (business) of the Syrian government," Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV cited Faisal Mekdad as saying.

Pompeo on Wednesday told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that the administration intended to work with "as many partners, friends and allies as possible" to stop what he described as all of Tehran's nuclear and non-nuclear threats.


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