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Iran slams U.S.-led anti-IS coalition "illegitimate"

The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition is "illegitimate," said a top Iranian official visiting Syria on Tuesday.

The U.S.-led international coalition is "amputated and doesn't have international legitimacy," Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said at a press conference Tuesday evening in the capital Damascus.

The official accused the countries that have joined the coalition of originally supporting the Islamist militant groups in Syria, referring to the Arab Gulf states, which initially backed the armed rebellion in Syria before finally deciding to join the U. S. in its battle against the Islamic State (IS) militant group that has violently seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.

"The U.S. airstrikes (on Syria) are illogical and unacceptable, " he said, adding that Iran has opposed the coalition because it rejects intervention in the domestic affairs of others.

Shamkhani stressed that the coalition was a "ridiculous farce" and would not be effective or willing to place ground troops in the battlefield "because they had been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The Iranian official stressed that his country will keep backing the Syrian government, saying that "the peoples are the ones who draw the future of their country and not the foreign forces."

Shamkhani met earlier in the day with President Bashar al-Assad, during which the president stressed that confronting extremist Islamist views spread by militants is as important as fighting the armed Islamist groups, who have wreaked havoc and destroyed historic and cultural heritage, according to the official SANA news agency.

"Combating terrorism cannot be carried out by states that contributed to establishing terrorist organizations, provided them with logistic and material support, and spread terrorism around the world," Assad said, criticizing the Gulf Arab states.

The United States and its allies have bombarded the bases of the Islamic State militias with airstrikes in several Syrian cities last Tuesday, killing tens of the militants, and destroying their encampments.

Damascus reported that it was informed beforehand about the attacks, while its officials stressed they would cooperate with any efforts that aim to eliminate the armed groups in Syria as long as they respect the sovereignty of the country.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 30Sep14]

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