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Middle East
Iran urges non-aligned nations role in Syria
Supreme leader says emerging states have more right than West or UN to help end crisis, as NAM summit ends without deal.
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2012 04:52
The Non-Aligned Movement was unable to reach an agreement on the ongoing crisis in Syria [AFP]

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that emerging nations have a greater right than the West or the UN to help resolve Syria's escalating civil war.

His comments on Friday came at the end of a meeting in Tehran of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the grouping of 120 nations whose annual conference was held in the Iranian capital this week.

Iran had hoped to use the summit to head off foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis and also to counter Western efforts to isolate it over its nuclear programme. 

"The Non-Aligned Movement definitely has more political right than the US, NATO or some European countries to intervene in the Syrian issue," Khamenei said. He did not elaborate on what kind of role the group should have.

Earlier on Friday, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, told Syria's Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi that fighting must stop in Syria "with the primary responsibility resting on the government to halt its use of heavy weapons".

In a meeting on the sidelines of the NAM summit with Halaqi and Walid Muallem, Syria's foreign minister, Ban said he set out his "demands for all sides to cease all forms of violence".

"What is important at this time is that all the parties must stop the violence. All those actors who may be providing arms to both sides... must stop," Ban said at a news conference broadcast live on Iranian television.

No agreement

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Tehran, said NAM foreign ministers had earlier agreed on a draft statement to end the crisis in Syria, which included opposing foreign intervention and welcoming UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. 

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In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

However, Khan said that statement was never made public and was not mentioned after a closed-door meeting of heads of state later in the day on Friday.

Khan pointed out that 'this conference was never supposed to be about Syria … it's about coming up with resolutions on developing countries".

"However, Syria has been the dominant talking point throughout this whole [conference] from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s comments to Ban Ki-moon’s comments," he said.

On Thursday, Morsi said it was an "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people against the "oppressive regime" in Damascus.

His comments sparked a walkout by the Syrian delegation.

Fighting continues

Fierce fighting continued in northern Syria on Friday as the International Committee of the Red Cross warned of a fast deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Clashes erupted in the battleground city of Aleppo, less than 50km from the Turkish border, and rebels attacked Abu Zohur air base in Idlib province on the border where they said they shot down a MiG warplane on Thursday, a rights group said.

In some of the heaviest fighting, rebels clashed with army troops in Albu Kamal, a town in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"The rebels have seized several army posts, including a base in the Hamdan military airport," Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency.

The conflict in Syria has claimed more than 26,000 lives since it began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group.

Iran, the principal ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has accused the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming Syria's rebels.

The Syrian opposition and US officials in turn allege that Iran is giving military help to Assad.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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