A senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader warned Sunday that any U.S. military strike against Syria’s Assad regime would be “suicidal.”
“If the Americans take military action in Syria, it will be a suicidal action,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister who serves as foreign affairs advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
U.S. military action in Syria would result in the third consecutive “defeat” in the region, after the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, Velayati said, adding that the defeat in Syria would be even “stronger” than in the other two cases.
His remarks were quoted by Iran Daily, a paper published by the official IRNA news agency.
Iran’s was the latest response to reports indicating that the Obama administration is mulling a “kinetic” option in a bid to end the assault by the Assad regime and its Russian allies aimed at recapturing rebel-held parts of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city.
Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry spokesman noted that any attack against Syrian regime military targets would put its military personnel in danger too. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov underlined Russia’s deployment of sophisticated surface-to-air missile defense systems and implicitly threatened to retaliate against any U.S. strike.
Like Russia, Iran is heavily involved in the campaign to fight off a broad rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. Russia launched an airstrike campaign a year ago, claiming to be targeting terrorists but – according to the U.S. – focusing much of its attention on other rebel groups including those supported by Western and Arab nations.
In Iran’s case, it has provided millions of dollars of military aid, deployed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers and troops on the ground, and is also sponsoring Shi’a militia fighting on behalf of the regime, including those from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Sunday’s threat comes from a man who is not only close to Khamenei but has himself been accused of direct links to international terror,
Velayati served as Iran’s foreign minister from 1981 to 1997, both under Khamenei (who was Iran’s president until elevated to the supreme leader’s post in 1989) and his successor, President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Velayati and Rafsanjani are among eight senior Iranians accused by the Argentine government of a role in plotting the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed. Argentina issued arrest warrants for the eight almost a decade ago, but all are still at large.
A ninth man accused by Argentina of a key role in the bombing, Hezbollah terror chief and an FBI “most wanted” terrorist, Imad Mughniyah, was assassinated in a bomb blast in Damascus in 2008. Khamenei sent Velayati as his representative to Mughniyah’s funeral in Beirut.
The U.S. State Department says Iran remains the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror.