In an October 30, 2015 interview with the Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, Hossein Sheikholislam, an advisor to Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said that Tehran would continue defending the Assad regime. He stressed that Iran is coming to the Vienna talks about Syria as the "victorious" party, and that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will conduct himself in a manner "befitting the blood [shed by] the Iranian martyrs in Syria." Sheikholislam added that Iran is not negotiating with the U.S. on Syria (in line with Khamenei's orders), and that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which are the defeated parties, are not qualified to participate in negotiations about Syria's future because they are the chief supporters of the terrorism there.
Sheikholislam also stated that certain Middle East countries - those who for the last five years have supported the ISIS terrorism - recently conveyed messages to Tehran that it should accept Assad's fall as part of a transfer of power in Syria, but Tehran rejected this. He stressed that only the people of Syria and Yemen can decide their own destiny, and that the leaders of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and France cannot take their place.
Sheikholislam stressed that only elements that surrender their arms to the Syrian army can be part of the solution in Syria, otherwise "they are terrorists who can expect death." He added that that Iran has helped the Syrians to fight for the liberation of Aleppo and will continue to do so, as evident from the Iranian martyrs killed in this arena, and that it expects the city to be liberated soon.
It should be mentioned that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein-Amir Abdollahian spoke in a similar vein. On October 29, 2015, before leaving for the Vienna talks, he said that Tehran has always supported the fight against terror in Syria and the promotion of a political process there, and will continue to do so. Those who wish to depose Assad should know that only the Syrian people is entitled to decide its own fate, he said.
The following are the main points of Sheikholislam's interview:
Hossein Sheikholislam (image: Tasnim, Iran, October 30, 2015)
"Iran does not negotiate about Syria with AmericaÔÇªThe world knows that Iran is now the victorious and the dominant party in the Syrian drama, and if we go to Vienna we should know that we are the victorious ones and America and Saudi Arabia are the defeated ones. The world knows that America and Saudi Arabia are not qualified to discuss the negotiations about Syria because they are the main supporters of the terrorists. [Iranian Foreign Minister] Mr. Zarif will surely show up in Vienna as the victorious one, as befitting the blood [shed by] the Iranian martyrs in Syria.
"Those who for 5 years have been supporting the ISIS terrorists [in their attempt] to capture Syria are now [acting] like fools and offering us to come negotiate about Syria. Some officials in the region whose name I will not mention sent us official messages [calling upon us] to accept the fall of Assad's government as part of a transition of power in Syria, [but] we said we do not interfere in the affairs of other countries, based on our constitution, [and that] we will defend the Syrian government and nation against the terrorists.
"It is foolish [of them] to come to make deals regarding Syria and Yemen. The Saudis have been defeated in Yemen and Syria. Only the Syrians can decide their destiny, not the Turkish prime minister, the kings of Qatar or Saudi Arabia, the American president or the French prime minister, who want to take the place of the Syrian and Yemeni people.
"In Syria, only those who surrender their weapons to the Syrian army can be part of the solution, otherwise [they are] terrorists and should expect death...
"The terrorists wanted to divide Syria and to make Aleppo the terrorists' capital, based on a Turkish, Qatari, Saudi, and American plan. The Syrian army and people met this plot with alertness, and today Aleppo is on the verge of a decisive battle. We expect that it will soon be liberated completely and delivered to the Syrian people and government. After the liberation of Aleppo the terrorists and their supporters will reach the end of their path. We have assisted the Syrian people and government in this important matter and we will [continue] to do so, and the recent martyrdom [of our soldiers] is the most important proof of this. In the Aleppo battle [they are making] efforts to really purge [the city of enemies], and it is natural, of course, that in this decisive battle there is also a price to pay."