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U.S. Defense Chief Says Iran Developing 'Militia' Within Syria

Source: RFE/RL

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says Iran is working to form a pro-regime militia inside Syria, warning that Tehran's growing presence could only aggravate the situation on the ground.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (right) with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad
(file photo)

"There's now an indication that they're trying to develop, trying to train a militia within Syria to be able to fight on behalf of the regime," Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon.

"The Syrian people ought to determine their future, not Iran," he added.

The United States, Western allies, and the Syrian rebels accuse Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hizballah, of providing military assistance to the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Tehran, which is Damascus's last remaining regional ally, has denied this.

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Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

... Payvand News - 08/15/12 ... --

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