Wall Street Journal: The top foreign-policy officials of 11 Western and Arab countries denounced the militant group Hezbollah and fighters from Iran for intervening in recent fighting in the Syrian civil war, calling in a formal statement Wednesday for their removal from the country. The Wall Street Journal
By Keith Johnson
AMMAN, Jordan—The top foreign-policy officials of 11 Western and Arab countries denounced the militant group Hezbollah and fighters from Iran for intervening in recent fighting in the Syrian civil war, calling in a formal statement Wednesday for their removal from the country.
The foreign ministers, meeting as the Friends of Syria support group for the Syrian opposition, said the presence of the foreign fighters represents “a flagrant intervention on Syrian territory and a serious threat to regional stability.”
The countries met as embattled Syrian rebels struggled to hold off a fierce government advance in the strategic town of Qusayr. There, government tanks and artillery backed by fighters with Hezbollah and what U.S. officials described as Iranian advisers or fighters, pounded areas long held by the Syrian opposition.
The officials of the 11 countries singled out Hezbollah fighters in Qusayr as well as “fighters from Iran” in a formal statement issued at the end of the session. The group consists of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan, which hosted the meeting and is struggling with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting. The 11 countries also backed international talks being planned for June in Geneva that opponents of the regime of Bashar al-Assad hope will lead to a political transition.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the Friends of Syria meeting, pointed to the Geneva meeting as the way of addressing the two-year-old civil war, in which more than 80,000 have died. “The only alternative to that is more killing, more innocent civilian deaths, more chaos, more instability in a part of the world that has already suffered too much from it,” Mr. Kerry said in an appearance with his Jordanian counterpart.
The 11 countries also said Wednesday that they have committed to providing additional support to the Supreme Military Council, which is coordinating rebel efforts. They didnt specify what the additional support would include.
Mr. Kerry also said “no option is off the table” in terms of U.S. responses in the future, but didn’t elaborate. President Barack Obama has ruled out U.S. military involvement and, for now, sending arms to rebels. The option of arming rebels remains under consideration, administration officials have said.