Saudi FM: 'Iranians in Syria are Occupiers'

The designation means Iran could be held legally responsible for war crimes committed by Assad against Syrian Sunni civilians.

Mark Langfan ,

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud a
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud a

On Monday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal stated that “Iranian forces in Syria are occupying forces,” and that Iran must “pull its forces from Syria.”

Prince al-Faisal made his statement at a joint press conference in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea city of Jeddah with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Al-Faisal’s legal designation of Iran as an “occupying force” in Syria could have significant war crimes implications for Iran since, under such a “occupying force” definition, Iran could be held legally responsible for the war crimes and genocide of Assad’s chlorine chemical attacks on Syrian Sunni civilians.

Prince al-Faisal also accused Iran of instigating many other conflicts in the Middle East when he said, “In many conflicts, Iran is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Specifically, in Syria, he accused Tehran of sending to troops that are “fighting Syrians.” And he added, “If Iran wants to be part of the solution in Syria, it has to pull its forces from Syria. The same applies elsewhere, whether in Yemen or Iraq.”

Iran also funds and arms Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah in South Lebanon as well as in Syria.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sunni states support the mostly Sunni rebel groups that have been battling Assad since March 2011 in a war which has killed more than 200,000 people, mostly Sunnis.

On the other hand, Iran, a Shi’ite Islamic country, has financed and armed Assad of Syria, who belongs to the Alawite Shi'ite sect. The Alawite religious minority of Syria represents only about 10% of the country’s 22 million people, who are mostly Sunni Muslims.