The semiofficial 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.
ISNA has not provided an explanation for the removal of the interview. The short interview is, however, still available on other Iranian websites.
Deputy Quds Force commander Ismail Qaani 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 Qaani 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.
Qaani also claimed that "if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have been multiplied."
The interview was removed by ISNA a few hours after it was published on May 27. But bloggers managed to save a cached copy and also a screen grab of the interview.
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.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari
News Agency Removes Report On Iran's 'Physical' Involvement In Syria
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