DUBAI (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will defeat an uprising against him, scoring a victory over the United States and its allies in a move that will also represent a triumph for Iran, an advisor to Iran’s supreme leader was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Tehran has backed Assad’s efforts to suppress a rebellion that has drawn in regional players, with the Islamic state accusing Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of arming rebels fighting to topple the Syrian leader.
Shi’ite-ruled Iran has tried to counter a perceived drive by Western and U.S.-aligned Sunni Muslim nations to roll back its own power in the Middle East and fears that success for the Sunni-led uprising in Syria could have grave implications for itself.
The comments by Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were some of Tehran’s most supportive for Assad so far and came as the United States and France announced greater support for Syrian rebels on Friday.
Iran counts Assad as part of an “axis of resistance,” along with Islamist group Hezbollah, against Israeli and U.S. influence in the Middle East.
“The victory of the government of Syria against internal opponents, America, and their other Western and Arab supporters, is counted as a victory of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Velayati said, according to state news agency IRNA.
“The victory of the Syrian government is certain,” he added, saying that recent attacks would not weaken the Syrian government.
“The Syrian government’s position has stabilized, and some ... explosions and assassinations cannot bring down the regime.”
Two explosions targeted one of Syria’s top military command buildings in the capital Damascus on Wednesday, and a bomb attack in the Syrian capital on July 18 killed several top security officials.
Western countries and Syrian opposition groups have long suspected Iran of aiding Assad militarily, a charge Iran has denied though the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said earlier this month that its members provide non-military assistance to Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that Iran will stop at nothing to protect Syria.
A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters said that Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace into Syria to aid Assad.
Iraq denied it was allowing its air or land space to be used for such purposes.
Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Andrew Osborn