Iran has denied any intention to send army units into Syria to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Iranians also denied that they currently have military forces in Syria. However, they renewed their calls to host a conference gathering members of the Syrian opposition and the government authorities to discuss peaceful means to resolve the crisis.
The Iranian defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, said that the Syrian government does not need troops or military units, adding “we believe that the Syrian government and army have the ability and strength to confront these terrorists.”
On Tuesday [July 24] Iran’s deputy chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, said, “Syria's allies and the resistance movement — which opposes Israel and consists of Iranian, Syrian and Palestinian forces, as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah — have not yet entered the scene … and if they do, they will knock down the enemy, especially the hated [Gulf] Arabs.” This statement had been interpreted by some as evidence of Iran’s desire to send volunteers or military units to Syria to defend the government.
Vahidi said that no Iranian troops are currently in Syria, noting that his country “condemns the terrorist acts in Syria.”
A Syrian economic delegation consisting of 15 high-level members is currently visiting Iran. Its objective is to activate cooperation agreements concluded between the two countries. Headed by Deputy Prime Minister Omar Ghalawanji, the delegation includes the ministers of petroleum and mineral resources, irrigation, housing and construction and the head of the Central Bank of Syria.
The economic advisor of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Abdolriza Qassemian, said that the visit will focus on cooperation between Damascus and Tehran in the light of the economic pressures that Western and Arab countries have put on Syria.
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Akbar Salehi said that the best option for resolving the Syrian crisis would involve the Syrian opposition sitting down with the government to find a political solution to the conflict. He noted that his country had communicated with the Syrian opposition a year ago. “We are ready to host a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and the government,” said Salehi.
Salehi told reporters after a cabinet meeting that there are two types of opposition. The first is the people’s opposition, which has legitimate demands, and the second is that of those using violence to fight for the goals of foreign and external parties. He said that the latter type of opposition “is rejected by everyone.”