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Iran says US no longer has pretext to attack Syria

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iran's deputy foreign minister said Saturday the United States no longer has a pretext to attack Syria, following a deal struck to eliminate that country's chemical weapons.

"The new situation means in fact that any pretext for the United States and certain countries to engage in military action against Syria has been removed," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

His was the first reaction from Tehran -- a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- to the ambitious deal, struck between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

"We can even talk of a success by the front of the resistance (against Israel)" -- Iran, Syria, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, Amir-Abdollahian said.

Under the deal, Syria has a week to provide details of its chemical weapons stockpiles, and must give international inspectors unfettered access to them with the goal of removing them by the middle of next year.

The accord will be encapsulated in a UN resolution under Chapter VII of the UN charter, which allows for the use of force to ensure compliance.

However, Russia is certain to oppose this once diplomacy shifts to the United Nations.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the deal, but said much remains to be done and warned Damascus to comply, saying in a statement that "the United States remains prepared to act".

Earlier Saturday, General Qassem Soleimani, who heads Iran's elite Quds Force unit, said supporting Syria and the "resistance front" was in Iran's national interest.

Last week, he declared that Tehran will back Syria "until the end".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130914/iran-says-us-no-longer-has-pretext-attack-syria