Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
Hossein Amir-AbdollahianMajid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the Financial Times that Tehran told the US through back channels that it did not want the Israel-Hamas war to spread further, but also warned Washington that regional conflict could be unavoidable if Israeli attacks on Gaza continue.

“Over the past 40 days, messages have been exchanged between Iran and the US, via the US interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

“In response to the US,” he added, “we said that Iran does not want the war to spread, but due to the approach adopted by the US and Israel in the region, if the crimes against the people of Gaza and the West Bank are not stopped, any possibility could be considered, and a wider conflict could prove inevitable.”

Amir-Abdollahian insisted that Hezbollah and other grouts in the region were not Iran’s proxy forces, saying each had an independent political identity. At the same time, he warned that these groups “are not indifferent towards the killing of their Muslim and Arab peers in Palestine”.

The Iranian Foreign Minister said the US had not threatened that Iran could be hit if Hezbollah launched an all-out assault on Israel. However, he accused Washington of inviting Tehran “to exercise restraint” while it was itself escalating the war in Gaza with massive support for Israel.

He said the US’s messages to Hezbollah urging restraint “would fail to make the resistance group cautious in its decision-making.”

“Our military officials are of the opinion that the deployment of US aircraft carriers near our region, which makes them accessible, is not a strong point for the US. Rather, it makes them more vulnerable to possible strikes,” Amir-Abdollahian told the Financial Times.

“The war has already expanded in the region,” he added. “The fact that the Yemeni army (a reference to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels -ed.) attacks the occupied lands with missiles and drones means the war has begun to expand. The fact that Hezbollah is fighting with a third of the Israeli army shows the war has expanded.”

“I can say clearly, considering the knowledge we have and following meetings with leaders in the region, that the fate of this war will be determined by resistance groups, not Israel,” he claimed.

A Wall Street Journal report after Hamas’ October 7 attack claimed that Iranian security officials helped plan the attack and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut.

Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has denied any Iranian involvement in the Hamas attack.

Nevertheless, Iranian officials have threatened Israel in recent weeks. Amir-Abdollahian previously warned Israel that Lebanese and Palestinian Arab terrorists had their "finger on the trigger" to respond to an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, he warned that expansion of the Israel-Hamas war has become "inevitable" because of what he described as “the increasing intensity of the war against the civilian residents of Gaza.”