Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed to crush the uprising against his regime and cleanse the country of “terrorists,” the state news agency reported. Meanwhile, the United States has warned against “proxies or terrorist fighters” being sent in to Syria following the abduction of dozens of Iranians allegedly helping the Assad’s regime there.
“The Syrian people and their government are determined to purge the country of terrorists and to fight terrorism without respite,” Assad told Saeed Jalili, visiting envoy of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Jalili said Tehran will continue to back Syria under Assad, which acts as a pillar of an Iran-led regional alliance.
“What is happening in Syria is not an internal issue but a conflict between the axis of resistance on one hand, and the regional and global enemies of this axis on the other,” said Jalili, a top aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the crisis in Syria must not be allowed to descend into sectarian warfare and she warned against “proxies or terrorist fighters” being sent to join the conflict.
“We have to send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare. Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters must realize that will not be tolerated,” Clinton said at a news conference in the South African capital Pretoria.
Clinton’s statement came a day after Syrian opposition forces said three abducted Iranian were killed in government shelling and vowed to kill dozens of other Iranians being held in Syria.
Iran has its citizens who were abducted in Syria were pilgrims. The Syrian opposition insists they were army officers fighting with the Assad’s regime forces.
Clinton added that the world needs to decide how to hasten the end of the conflict in Syria and start planning for a political transition in Damascus.
“We must figure out how to hasten the day when bloodshed ends and the political transition begins,” she said.
“We have to be sure that we are working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of our expectations about ending the violence and beginning the political transition,” she added.
“We can begin talking and begin planning for what happens next.”