Iran has a responsibility to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as it fights an armed uprising, the head of the intelligence unit of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was quoted as saying on Saturday.
“We all have a responsibility to support Syria and not allow the line of resistance to be broken,” Fars news agency quoted Hossein Taeb, the intelligence unit head, as saying.
Iran has supported Assad in the face of international condemnation over his crackdown on the uprising against his family’s four-decade rule, considering his government part of an anti-Western front that also includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Tehran has also accused Western powers and countries in the region, including Turkey and Qatar, of supporting the rebels in an effort to overthrow Assad.
A parliamentary committee from Iran will visit Syria for two days soon to strengthen bilateral relations and consult the speaker of parliament and other officials, IRNA quoted Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, as saying.
Boroujerdi said the Non-Aligned Movement summit, bringing together 120 developing nations and starting on Sunday in Tehran, offered a good chance to discuss the Syrian crisis.
“This summit is a very good opportunity for member states of this movement to take a decision on the issue in this country...so that the crisis would be solved soon.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that his country would offer a resolution to end the Syrian conflict at the summit, adding that the new initiative is based on the suggestions of former UN envoy Kofi Anan and the decisions of the Arab League.
On the ground, a Syrian army field commander has defected, Al Arabiya reported. According to opposition sources, commander of the seventh division of army brigadier-general Mohammad Mousa al-Khairat has arrived in Jordan.
U.N. observers chief leaves Syria
In Damascus, head of the now-defunct UN observer team in Syria, General Babacar Gaye, left Syria on Saturday after the Security Council called time on the troubled mission, his aides said.
The mission officially ended on at midnight last Sunday amid escalating violence and divisions at the UN Security Council over how to end a conflict now in its 18th month.
Last week, Gaye accused both the Syrian army and rebel forces of failing to protect civilians as the fighting escalated.
“Both parties have obligations under international humanitarian law to make sure that civilians are protected,” he told reporters in Damascus last Saturday. “These obligations have not been respected.”
Annan himself, a former UN secretary general, formally steps down as international envoy on Syria at the end of this month after complaining about a lack of international support in the face of the mounting bloodshed.
The United Nations plans to maintain a political liaison office in Damascus to support the mediation efforts of his successor, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, who said Friday he was “scared” of the scale of the task ahead.
Officials have said the liaison office would probably be made up of between 20 and 30 people, including political, humanitarian and military experts.
What began in March 2011 as a peaceful uprising demanding the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has grown into a bloody insurgency, after the army and security forces launched a major crackdown across the country.
At least 24,500 people have been killed, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while the UN puts the death toll at 17,000.