April 11, 2018 / 3:35 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 2-Top Iranian says Tehran will stand with Damascus against foreign aggression

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ANKARA, April 11 (Reuters) - The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said on Wednesday that Tehran would support Damascus against any foreign aggression, state TV reported, in an apparent response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about a possible military strike on Syria.

Trump and his Western allies are discussing possible military action to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday against a rebel-held town that had long held out against government forces .

“We will stand by Syria’s government against any foreign aggression ... Iran backs Syria in its fight against America and the Zionist Regime (Israel),” Ali Akbar Velayati told state TV during his visit to eastern Ghouta in Syria.

Seven Iranian military personnel were killed in a Sunday air strike on a Syrian air base, Iranian media reported. Iran has blamed Israel for carrying out the attack on Tyias or T4, near Homs. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied launching the attack. Velayati, upon his arrival in Syria on Tuesday, said the strike would “not remain without response”, Iranian media reported.

Shi’ite-dominated Iran is Assad’s main regional ally and has provided military and economic support for his conflict with a range of Sunni Muslim rebel and militant groups.

“Syria’s enemies are angry because of its military advances against terrorist groups,” Velayati said.

Tehran denies having any conventional armed forces in Syria, but has acknowledged military advisers and volunteers from the evolutionary Guards Corps are there to help Assad’s forces. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Larry King)

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