By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
The semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) has removed an interview with a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in which he said Iran had been involved in Syria to prevent the killings of civilians.
Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani, deputy commander of Iran's Quds Force
Deputy Quds Force commander Ismail Ghaani was quoted on May 27 by ISNA as saying that "Thanks to Iran's presence in Syria-- physically and nonphysically-- big massacres were prevented."
Brigadier General Ghaani said that the Quds Force had had an "effective" presence in Syria.
"Despite all the problems that the Syrian government has -- and we have asked them to address those -- Syria is a location of resistance. The reason for all the pressure from the U.S. and Israel is that they have realized the country is impossible to occupy," he told ISNA.
Ghaani also claimed that "if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have been multiplied."
Iranian officials have expressed support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while denying reports that Tehran has been helping Syria's crackdown against antigovernment protesters.
The Iranian authorities have continued to watch events in Syria -- Iran's main strategic partner in the region -- with concern.
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