Rouhani warns of Talibanisation of Syria

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Thursday that Syria could become an extremist haven and called for cooperation to end the civil war.

Iran considers Syrian President Basharal Assad its closest regional ally and has not accepted United States intelligence reports that the regime killed about 1,400 people in a chemical weapons attack in the previous month.

“My government strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Rouhani told a New York think tank forum, without assigning blame.

“I am also concerned about the breeding ground created in parts of Syrian territory for extremist ideology and a rally point for terrorists, which is reminiscent of the Taliban-era Afghanistan,” he said.

Rouhani welcomed the US-Russian agreement which called for Assad to give up chemical weapons and kept a US military strike on Syria at bay.

Iran has also been a victim of chemical weapons used by Iraq, a fact acknowledged by US President Barack Obama in his address to the United Nations.

Western powers largely supported Iraq President Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.