Iran's ties to Syria frustrate Washington

Aug. 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Iran has been a strong supporter of the Syrian government's attacks on the civilian population, a U.S. State Department official said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, in Damascus to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Jalili was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying neither side supported the foreign agenda for Syria.

Members of the U.N. Security Council have been unable to get around Russian and Chinese objections to a resolution condemning the Syrian government for the violence. Russia, in particular, said draft resolutions lacked balance.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Washington was concerned about Iran's role in the region.

"They have been providing experience and capabilities to the Syrian government for months, supporting the Syrian government's attacks on the Syrian people," Ventrell said during his regular briefing.

Assad, however, said it was foreign powers that were stoking the conflict in Syria.

"They supply terrorists with weapons," he was quoted by IRNA as saying. "Such measures are not acceptable."

The U.S. Treasury Department in July opened the door to financial assistance for the Free Syrian Army.

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