TEHRAN, May 12 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won the war in Syria, and the campaign by rebels has failed, senior Iranian foreign policy officials claimed.
Officials of Iran, closely tied to the Syrian government, told the British newspaper the Guardian in a series of interviews that the strategy of the West -- notably the United States -- merely encouraged radicals and ultimately backfired.
"We have won in Syria. The regime (of al-Assad) will stay. The Americans have lost it," said Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.
"The U.S. does not understand Syria. The Americans wanted to replace Assad, but what was the alternative? All they have done is ... made the borders less safe," said Iranian government adviser Amir Mohebbian. "We accept the need for change in Syria, but gradually."
The interviews reinforce the position that the rebellion has failed, and massive funding by Iran was required to prop up the Assad regime and restore stability before the May presidential elections, in which Assad is expected to win a third term. Following Syrian rebels' retreat last week from their stronghold of Homs, some western observers have also declared Assad's government the winner of the insurrection, which began in March 2011.
"I think the Americans made a big mistake in Syria and I think they know it. If they accepted ... the plan in 2012, we could have avoided all of this," said Tehran University professor Mohammed Marandi, in reference to a plan to leave Assad in place, pending a ceasefire and monitored elections.