Syria's President Bashar al-Assad answers journalists after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Assad’s overthrow “red line” for Iran: supreme leader’s aide

by Reuters  |  published on January 22, 2013

A senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader warned against the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, saying his fate was a “red line”, in one of the Islamic state’s strongest messages of support for the Damascus government.

Iran has steadfastly backed Assad’s rule since an uprising against his rule began almost two years ago and regards him as an important part of the axis of opposition against arch-foe Israel.

“If the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken,” Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran’s June presidential election, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

“We believe that there should be reforms emanating from the will of the Syrian people, but without resorting to violence and obtaining assistance from the (United States of) America,” he told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen satellite television.

Asked if Iran sees Assad as a red line, Velayati said: “Yes, it is so. But this does not mean that we ignore the Syrian people’s right in choose its own rulers.”

More than 60,000 people have died in the uprising against Assad, part of the Arab Spring protests that have swept aside four heads of state since 2011.

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