Iran’s former president has accused Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad of using chemical weapons against his own people.
The remarks by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were made on August 29 and posted to the internet on September 2. The comments were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
With his comments, Rafsanjani, who is an ally of current president Hassan Rouhani and endorsed him in the last election, is essentially breaking away with Iran’s traditional support of its close ally Assad, even as Western countries have presented intelligence that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack on August 21.
“We have many problems, and recently, we are witnessing even greater danger. You watch the news, so you see that the U.S., the West in general, and some Arab countries have just about declared war on Syria. Any moment now, we will hear the sound of rockets and bombs. May God have mercy on the Syrian people,” said Rafsanjani.
“Over the past two years, the Syrian people have suffered greatly. Over 100,000 people have been killed, and there are eight million refugees, within and outside Syria. The prisons are crammed full and there is no more room, so they have seized a few stadiums to fill them up too,” he added.
“The Syrian people are experiencing harsh conditions. On the one hand, they are bombed with chemicals by their own government, and on the other hand, they can expect American bombs,” concluded the former Iranian president.
Not only has Iran defended Assad throughout the civil war in Syria, the Islamic Republic has provided him with military support during his fight against rebels trying to topple his regime.
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.
Rafsanjani tried to run himself in the last election in the country, but Iran's electoral watchdog barred him from standing in the election without providing an explanation.