Iran ready to hold talks with Syrian opposition
The Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday that Tehran was ready to meet with Syrian opposition groups in order to promote dialogue between them and the Syrian government. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to have meetings with Syrian dissidents in order to facilitate talks between government and Syrian dissidents," said Salehi, was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
He told reporters in Tehran that it was very important to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. In addition, Iran's top diplomat expressed the hope that this crisis could be resolved through cooperation between the countries of the region.
On his part, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Ramin Mehmanparast, was already quoted Saturday as saying by the national press that Tehran was ready to help solve the crisis, by promoting dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.
The joint UN and the Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan said during his visit to Tehran on Tuesday that Iran should be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis, a suggestion which was firmly rejected by United States.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Annan said Iran could play a positive role in resolving the Syrian crisis. Iran, a close ally of the Syrian regime, expressed strong rejection to any form of foreign intervention in Syria, but called the Syrian government to listen to the demands of its people and to undertake reforms.
In recent months, some Western countries have accused Tehran of supplying weapons to Damascus to quell the opposition, a charge denied by Tehran.
On the ground, at least 25 people including 14 civilians were killed Sunday in bombings and battles in Syria, according to an NGO. In the rebel city of Qousseir, residents started to dig "bunkers" to protect themselves from shells, according to an AFP correspondent. After the heavy bombing of recent days, residents of Qousseir, controlled for months by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have carried out excavations to construct shelters in their own homes or businesses.
Elsewhere in the country, three civilians and five rebels were killed in the shelling of neighborhoods of Deir Ezzor and in fighting, especially near the Bou Omar oil field in the province of Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR).
In the province of Homs, the Syrian army bombed once again Rastane, a rebellious city, beyond the government control since February, where four civilians were killed by a shell of their house.
Further north, in the province of Hama, two civilians were killed by a bombing in al-Qalet Madiq. Also in the north, one rebel was killed in the city of Aazaz during combat.