Jun 29 2012
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Assad Sees 'Indirect' Western Hand in Syria Uprising
Friday, Jun 29, 2012
TEHRAN, Iran (AFP)--Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview on Iranian state television on Thursday that he believed Western and some regional countries were playing a role in supporting the uprising against his regime.
He acknowledged that "material proof does not exist" because "most of the time their support is hidden and indirect," but "their relations (with the armed opposition) are clear."
The interview was recorded a week ago in Mr. Assad's palace in Damascus, Iranian media said.
No explanation was given for the lengthy delay of the broadcast.
He also insisted that "al Qaeda and extremist religious groups are involved in terrorist actions" and that the latter comprised most of the armed opposition groups in Syria.
"Our responsibility is defending civilians. When a terrorist is killed, tens of civilians are saved," he said.
Mr. Assad has only rarely given interviews to foreign media since the unrest started nearly 16 months ago and blew up into a vicious conflict that has killed more than 15,000 people.
Iran is his staunchest ally, providing humanitarian and material support to his regime. Tehran has denied domestic and foreign media reports suggesting it was also supplying military personnel to bolster Mr. Assad's forces in Syria.
Several reputable U.S. media outlets have reported that CIA officers were present in Turkey on the border with Syria tasked with trying to control the flow of weapons and cash to Syria's opposition apparently supplied by Gulf Arabs.
The Geneva talks on Syria, due to go into the weekend, are to examine ways to shore up a faltering U.N.-Arab League mediated peace plan. Invited are all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus other key regional players including Turkey.
Iran wasn't invited, due to U.S. opposition, and Saudi Arabia was also left off the guest list.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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