Iran is ready to play a role alongside other regional countries to try to establish a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, an official was quoted as saying on Saturday.
“Iran is ready to play an appropriate role in bringing stability and security in Syria” to prevent the crisis “quickly spreading to the whole region,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Iran newspaper.
Tehran has repeatedly offered to help resolve the crisis, but this has been rejected by Syria’s opposition and Western and Arab states which accuse it of militarily aiding President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to suppress a rebellion.
In return, Iran has accused some Western and Arab countries of arming Syrian rebel fighters with the aim of toppling the Assad regime.
In his remarks published on Saturday, Mehmanparast again criticized “certain regional countries (who) believe that by arming the rebels, they can solve the Syrian crisis.”
“Instead of fuelling conflicts and pushing Syria towards a civil war, these countries should use their influence to create a climate of dialogue between the government and the opposition,” he added.
He also reaffirmed Tehran’s backing of U.N.-Arab league envoy Kofi Annan’s plan aimed at resolving the crisis. Although it has so far failed, the plan remains “the best solution to the Syrian crisis,” he said.
Pregnant woman killed
Meanwhile, shelling and fighting in the central Syrian province of Homs killed at least five people on Saturday, including a pregnant woman and two rebels, a rights watchdog reported.
The woman was killed in shelling of Qusayr city, while the rebel fighters died during clashes in the Homs city neighborhoods of Sultaniyeh, Qarabis and Khaldiyeh, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Elsewhere, helicopters backed by armored vehicles attacked Khirbet Ghazaleh in the southern province of Darra, a main hotbed of dissent against Assad’s regime, it added without providing any casualty figures.
On Friday, violence across Syria killed at least 118 people, including dozens of civilians when government forces fired on anti-regime protests, said the Observatory.
Eleven children were among the 49 civilians who died, and 37 soldiers and 32 rebel fighters were killed, at least 18 of them when troops raided areas of northwestern province of Idlib.
Fourteen civilians that were killed on Friday died in the Damascus district of Tadamon and in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk, also in the capital, said the Observatory.
Protesters had taken to the streets on Friday to renew their demands for the fall of the regime, including in the Damascus districts of Nahr Aysha and Sayida Zainab, where troops used gunfire to disperse them.
On Thursday, more than 200 people were killed in Syria, including over 150 in the central village of Tresma when the army attacked rebels using tanks and helicopter gunships, drawing strong condemnation from world leaders.
It is not possible to independently verify death tolls in Syria. The United Nations stopped compiling such figures at the end of 2011.
The Observatory has said more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising erupted against the regime of Assad in mid-March last year.