(TEHRAN, Iran) — Iran isn’t willing to abandon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just yet.
With ally Russia on the verge of pulling its once unequivocal support for al-Assad, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahianof proclaimed on Tuesday, “The Syrian Army and the state machine are working smoothly.”
Not many international observers would concur with that assessment after 21 months of war that has left tens of thousands of people dead, and even those inside the Syrian government wondering how much longer al-Assad can hold on if he insists on a military solution to remain in power.
Still, Tehran doesn’t appear to be wavering even as it now finds itself at odds with Turkey’s decision to allow NATO Patriot defense missile systems to be deployed at the border with Syria to prevent any possible attacks.
As usual, Iran is laying the blame for all that has gone wrong in Syria at the feet of its arch-enemy, Israel.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi claimed on Tuesday that Israel was the real beneficiary of the unrest should the al-Assad regime topple, while taking up the president’s position that his own people are the pawns of “terrorists.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Margot Haddad, Livia Borghese and Angela Dewan, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN