Tehran spends billions of dollars in the form of military and financial support to Damascus, causing a rift in the Iranian regime, a report published by The Times on Monday said, as fighting resumed across the war-torn country, leaving more deaths.
Citing Western intelligence reports, The Times said that the support provided by Tehran to the Syrian regime of President Bashat al-Assad has caused a split between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the country’s spymaster Qassem Suleimani, due to the failure of the latter to end the Syrian conflict in favor of Assad.
Iran has paid the salaries of the Syrian regime troops for months, in addition to providing Assad with weapons and logistic support, The Times reported citing members of the Syrian opposition.
The Syrian opposition has often accused Tehran of supporting the Syrian regime with weapons. The last few weeks have witnessed several statements by Iranian officials regarding means of Iranian interference in Syria.
Western members of the U.N. Security Council had blasted Iran for providing Assad with weapons to help him crush an 18-month-long uprising by rebels determined to topple his government.
“Iran’s arms exports to the murderous Assad regime in Syria are of particular concern,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice had told the 15-nation council during a meeting on the world body’s Iran sanctions regime.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Sunday vowed his country would stop and search any flights from Iran over its territory suspected of carrying weapons to Syria, as requested by the United States.
Iraq plans to randomly inspect Iranian airplanes flying to Syria, the Iraqi foreign minister, Zebari told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper in an interview.
“We have informed the Iranian officials to stop these flights and to stop arming the Syrian regime or fund any side in this crisis, we have affirmed that Iraq doesn’t accept to be a path for this, or its lands, skies and water to be used for arming or funding.”
International efforts to end the 18-month conflict in Syria have failed to stop the violence as rebels continue the fight, which began in March 2011, to overthrow President Assad. The conflict has killed 30,000 people, according to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group.
Fighting has been deadlocked in Aleppo since rebels pushed into the city in July. Government forces have resorted to heavy weaponry, including attack aircraft, helicopter gunships and artillery, to dislodge rebels from their positions.
The army, for its part, shelled several other districts of Aleppo and battled rebels in Aleppo’s northern district of Jandul, the Observatory said.
In Damascus province, rebels killed nine soldiers when they attacked a military checkpoint on the road linking the capital with Qatana to the southwest, the Observatory reported.
A Kurdish activist, Raad Basho, was gunned down outside his home in the Kurdish city of Hasakeh in the northeast, the Observatory said.
The northern province of Deir Ezzor, Hama in central Syria and Deraa in the south came under heavy shelling by regime forces, the Observatory said.
It reported a total of at least 114 people killed in violence across the country on Sunday, including 57 who died in Damascus province and 39 in Deir Ezzor.