Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, thinks the United States, Israel and the "wicked" British government are behind the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terrorist group, Al-Akhbar reports.
According to the report, Khamenei’s comments were made Monday, in his first speech since undergoing prostate surgery last month.
"America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions – the wicked government of Britain – have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shias," he said, according to his website, in a speech marking a Shiite Muslim religious holiday.
"They created Al-Qaeda and Da'esh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS -ed.) in order to create divisions and use them to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them (ISIS)," Khamenei charged.
The United States along with several Arab monarchies began a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria on September 23. The airstrikes have not been effective so far.
Other Western countries, including Britain, have also taken part in bombing raids against ISIS positions in Iraq.
Khamenei's accusation appeared to be a reference to Western support for the so-called rebel forces fighting the Syrian army and government.
"A careful and analytic look at the developments reveals that the U.S. and its allies, in efforts that are falsely termed countering Da’esh, seek to create division and enmity among the Muslims rather to destroy the root causes of that (terrorist) current," Khamenei claimed, according to Al-Akhbar.
"Shias and Sunnis must know that any action or remark, including insulting one another, leads to increased sensitivities and ignite flames. This will certainly benefit the common enemy of all Muslims," he added.
Last month, Khamenei said his country had rejected a U.S. request for cooperation against ISIS because Washington has “dirty hands”.
A day later, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said he is doubtful that the real objective of the United States against ISIS is to eliminate the group.