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A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian President Bashar Assad (R) meeting with Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab-African Affairs, on September 3, 2015 in the capital Damascus. AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA

Iran will keep backing Assad government

THE LEVANT NEWS — TEHRAN: Iran will maintain its backing for the Syrian government, a senior Iranian official said, after the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed a plan to end the war.

“We will continue to give our support to Syria,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

Iran will also “support inter-Syrian dialogue” aimed at ending the conflict, he said in remarks carried Saturday by the official IRNA news agency.

Iran is the main backer of Bashar Assad’s government, and has provided financial and military support to pro-government forces fighting in Syria.

The Security Council on Friday threw its support behind a U.S. and Russian initiative that foresees a rapid ceasefire in the almost five-year conflict, perhaps as early as next month.

But Washington and Moscow remain split over the fate of Assad and which groups fighting in Syria should be designated “terrorists” and therefore excluded from negotiations.

Amir Abdollahian said Iran would work with Russia, Oman, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and France to prepare a list of extremist groups it wants to see banned from talks.

“Terrorist groups have no place in this national dialogue,” he was quoted as saying.

He also restated Tehran’s position on Assad’s fate, saying it was the Syrian leader’s choice if he wanted to run in future presidential elections.

“It will be up to Syrians to decide,” said Amir Abdollahian.

Source: Agence France Presse

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