|‘Military intervention would undermine efforts to resolve Syrian crisis’||
TEHRAN – Iran has once again expressed its opposition to foreign military intervention in Syria over the allegation that the Syrian government has been behind a recent chemical attack near Damascus.
“We are against any foreign military intervention, which will damage the efforts aimed at finding a political solution for the conflict in Syria,” Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee said in an e-mailed statement to the New York Times which was published on Saturday.
“We believe that missiles have never been peace messengers in the Middle East and the rest of the world,” he said.
He also urged other countries to let the United Nations inspectors in Syria complete their work.
In addition, Khazaee said, “Iran, as a main victim of use of chemical weapons, is against any kind of usage of this inhuman warfare.”
According to Reuters, UN experts left Syria on Saturday after investigating a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of people, and the United States said it was planning a limited response to the Syrian government for its alleged role in the assault.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States, which has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region, was in the planning process for a “limited, narrow” military action that would not involve boots on the ground or be open-ended.
In a sign the United States may be preparing to act, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on Friday to the foreign ministers of key European and Persian Gulf allies, as well as the head of the Arab League, a senior State Department official said.
A Reuters witness said the team of UN experts arrived at Beirut International Airport on Saturday, after crossing the land border from Syria into Lebanon by foot earlier in the day.
The 20-member team, including experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, have been into the rebel-held areas in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus three times, taking blood and tissue samples from victims. They also took samples of soil, clothing and rocket fragments.
They will be sent to laboratories in Europe, most likely Sweden or Finland, for analysis. The UN experts have already been testing for sarin, mustard gas or other toxic agents.
The analysis should establish if a chemical attack took place but not who was responsible for the August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb.
Final results might not be ready for two weeks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Security Council members, according to diplomats.
The United States released its own unclassified intelligence report on the attack, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed killed 1,429 Syrian civilians and was the work of government forces.
Syria blames rebels fighting against the government for the attack. Its main ally Russia says any attack on Syria would be illegal and only inflame the civil war there.
Iran has also expressed strong opposition to any foreign military intervention in the crisis-hit Arab country.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry repeated its denial that the government had used chemical weapons against the people. Kerry’s accusations were a “desperate attempt” to justify a military strike. “What he said was lies,” the ministry said.
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