In Focus | Syria

Iran proposes regional observers for ally Syria

Calls for peace talks to help process of fundamental reforms

  • AFP
  • Published: 12:00 September 18, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Syrian army soldiers raise their guns outside a research centre following clashes with rebels in Aleppo on September 17, 2012. UN officials have denounced gross human rights violations by both sides in Syria, as fighting rages in the second city Aleppo with the army claiming to have secured much of a strategic district.

Tehran: Iran is proposing it, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey dispatch observers to its ally Syria in an effort to quell the violence there, state media reported on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi put forward the suggestion at a regional “contact group” meeting held in Cairo on Monday, the official news agency IRNA and broadcaster IRIB said.

He also offered to host the group’s next meeting in Tehran, they added.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, was absent from the Cairo meeting on Monday. He was said to be recovering abroad from recent surgery. The kingdom was not represented at the talks by any other official.

Salehi told his Egyptian and Turkish counterparts at the Cairo meeting that “observers” from their countries, and from Saudi Arabia, could “monitor the process of stopping the violence in Syria,” according to IRNA.

He also called for peace talks “to help the process of fundamental reforms and finding a democratic approach in Syria.”

Salehi appealed for “a simultanous halt in clashes and violence by the sides in Syria, insisted on a peaceful solution without foreign intervention and a halt to financial, military and training support for the Syrian opposition,” IRNA reported, without giving a source.

It said Salehi offered for Iran to host the next contact group meeting, but it gave no date.

The UN last month put an end to its own observer mission to Syria that was established in April, after a ceasefire between regime forces and rebels failed to take hold.

Iran’s strong support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad contrasts with the positions of the other three members of the regional group.

Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are all demanding Al Assad step down in order to bring peace to Syria, where more than 20,000 people have been killed since an uprising broke out in March 2011.

Iran accuses Turkey and Saudi Arabia of supplying or facilitating military support to Syria’s rebels.

International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, who just finished a four-day visit to Damascus during which he met Al Assad and opposition members, was said by an Arab diplomat to have joined the meeting.

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