TEHRAN (AFP) – Tehran on Sunday dismissed its renewed blacklisting by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism charging that it was US allies including Riyadh that were the real culprits.
The Iranian foreign ministry noted its role in neighbouring Iraq supporting the government against the Islamic State jihadist group independently of a US-led coalition as well as its backing for the Syrian regime against jihadists and other rebels, some of them backed by Saudi Arabia.
Washington “turns a blind eye to the broad political and financial support by Saudi Arabia and its other allies to this ominous phenomenon in the world,” foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari told the official IRNA news agency.
“While US allies in the region in various ways support Daesh (IS) and other terrorist groups, the Islamic Republic of Iran is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Syria.”
Ansari said Washington’s support for Israel despite its decades-old occupation of the Palestinian territories made it the “biggest sponsor of state terrorism”.
In its latest annual report published on Thursday, the US State Department said Iran had boosted its support for Palestinian militant groups in Gaza last year, as well as Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah which has deployed thousands of fighters to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
It said Iran also “increased its assistance to Iraqi Shiite terrorist groups, including Kataib Hezbollah, which is a US-designated foreign terrorist organisation, as part of an effort to fight the Islamic State.”
Kataib Hezbollah is one of a number of Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq that have played a major part in the government’s fightback against the Sunni extremists of IS.