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Pentagon: Iran Helps Assad Regime, Al-Qaeda Foments Violence In Syria

The Pentagon has alleged that Iran is supporting the Bashar-al-Assad regime in Syria, and that al-Qaeda terrorists are in the country for their own purposes.

The allegation was made by U.S. Defense Department spokesman Capt. John Kirby at a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday.

"We remain deeply troubled and concerned by the ongoing violence in Syria and by the horrific acts of the Assad regime against its own people," Kirby told reporters.

"And we certainly have seen reports and have reason to believe that Iran continues to assist the Assad regime in committing these acts of atrocities against the Syrian people," he added.

Other nations share that concern, the Pentagon spokesman said, adding that some were providing lethal assistance to opponents of the Syrian regime.

Kirby said defense officials had seen but could not confirm reports that the Iranians were using commercial airliners to move arms into Syria.

"The larger issue here is that the Iranian regime, Tehran, continues to support, in tangible and intangible ways, the Assad regime," he added, "and that needs to stop."

Kirby said defense officials believe "al-Qaeda has some presence inside Syria and interest in fomenting violence in Syria."

He added, "We do not believe they share the goals of the Syrian Opposition or that they are even embraced by the Opposition … The sense that we get is that it is primarily members of [al-Qaeda in Iraq] that are migrating into Syria."

Syria drew renewed world attention following a massacre of more than 100 people north of the city of Homs on May 25, which international observers largely blamed on forces linked to the government.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said the administration had been focused on the need to bring about a political transition in Syria sooner rather than later.

"The longer that Assad and his thugs are allowed to brutally murder the Syrian people, the more likely it becomes a sectarian civil war; the more likely that it spills over Syrian borders; the more likely that it transforms into a proxy war with different players," Carney said, "including … Iran, which is already engaging in malignant behavior with regards to the Syrian situation, stepping up that kind of activity and not being alone in doing that," he added.

by RTT Staff Writer

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