July 1, 2013
Senior Iranian commander Major General Hassan Firouzabadi warns the US and its allies against turning Syria into another sanctuary for al-Qaeda terrorists.
“This spot [Syria] will turn into another Afghanistan for al-Qaeda, which is located near the Mediterranean Sea and borders Europe,” the chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces said on Saturday.
“The US and the Westerners should know that al-Qaeda will not be confined to the Syrian and Iraqi borders, and that it knows no boundaries,” the Iranian commander said.
Firouzabadi said arming the al-Qaeda terrorists would lead to the spread of terrorism across the world.
“Today, Muslim scholars and the innocent people of Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya are targeted with these weapons, but this flame will also engulf the Westerners,” Firouzabadi added.
The Iranian commander said the West has created an organized and unstable army under the command of unknown people and must take responsibility for the chaos and bloodshed resulting from sending weapons to northern Syria.
The unrest in Syria erupted over two years ago and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country. Last month, President Bashar al-Assad said militants from as many as 29 different countries are operating inside Syria.
A June 26 report by the Wall Street Journal said the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has begun transferring weapons to Jordan in order to arm the militants.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on June 25 that Riyadh believes the al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria should be armed, but weapons shipments to the Syrian government should be stopped.
Moreover, European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels in May reached an agreement to lift the arms embargo on the militants in Syria.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Firouzabadi referred to the recent abdication of power by Qatar’s former ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and said his fate should be a salutary lesson to the leaders of those other countries that support the militants in Syria.
The 61-year-old emir, who had overthrown his father in a coup in 1995, handed over power to his 33-year-old son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on June 25 after 18 years of ruling Qatar.
Firouzabadi said the former Qatari ruler was the “first victim of investing in al-Qaeda and [practicing] enmity with the Muslim world.”
Qatar’s international standing has been greatly undermined, particularly across the Muslim world, because of its deep involvement in supporting the foreign-backed militancy against the Syrian government.