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Syrian refugees say Iranian forces involved in crackdown

06/11/11 Source: Radio Zamaneh

AFP reports that Iranian troops are in Syria supporting the regime of Beshar Assad, according to injured Syrian refugees in Turkey. The refugees say they were victims of "Iranian military forces," but Iran has dismissed the allegations as "baseless."

Turkish PM attacks Syrian forces over 'massacre'

Mostafa, an injured Syrian refugee, said: "There were both plainclothes and uniformed Iranian soldiers. I saw them with my own eyes. We asked them not to attack us, but they didn't speak Arabic."

The 23-year-old man added that his attackers wore black shirts, which is uncommon in Syria, and wore beards. He added that the Syrian military is forbidden to wear beards.

A 17-year-old Syrian student named Akram reported: "Most of these people are snipers. They do not speak Arabic and, most significantly, they carry weapons that are unfamiliar to us."

In May, the Washington Post cited U.S. officials saying Iran is supporting Beshar Assad's regime during the recent uprisings. They claimed Iran is sending advisors and training personnel to suppress Syrian protests.

On Tuesday, British Foreign Minister William Hague accused the Islamic Republic of cooperating with the Syrian government to extinguish the protests, saying: "Iran is combining brutal suppression of opposition leaders at home with the provision of equipment and technical advice to help the Syrian regime crush protests in Syria."

He added: "This is unacceptable, and compounds our concern about Iran's behaviour and its intentions over its nuclear program."

Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov on Iranian soldiers in Syria

Yesterday Iran summoned the British charge d'affaires to explain Hague's statements. Press TV reported that the head of the West Europe division of Iran's Foreign Ministry told the top British diplomat: "The remarks [by the British Foreign Secretary] are completely unfounded and part of a series of false claims."

He added: "The British government is not qualified to make such comments about other countries due to its negative influence and meddling in the region, especially by helping to train some countries' military forces so they can crack down on the people."

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