Iran FM slams Syria strikes as ‘illegal’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif slammed potential US-led airstrikes against Syria as "illegal" on a visit to Baghdad Sunday. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned airstrikes would hinder efforts towards a political solution.
 
Zarif said military action was barred under the United Nations charter, but Washington is pressing for the strikes in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack the White House claims was carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
"Civilized countries, 65 years ago, took the options off the table when they rejected in the charter of the United Nations resort to force as an illegal practice," Zarif said in a joint press conference with Zebari.
 
"Why [do] they [countries supporting a strike] call themselves civilized nations and continue to insist on all options being on the table?" he said.
 
"All options have been removed from the table [a] long, long, long time ago."
 
Zarif made the remarks during a one-day trip to Iraq in which he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki earlier on Sunday. This was his first visit to Iraq since being appointed foreign minister by President Hassan Rowhani in mid-August, 
 
Zebari, meanwhile, warned that any strikes "would hinder political efforts" to help end the 30-month war in neighboring Syria.
 
Iran, a staunch supporter of the Assad regime, actively opposes US and French plans to launch a military strike against Damascus over its suspected use of chemical weapons in deadly attacks on August 21.
 
Iran also backs claims that rebels, not the Assad regime, carried out the chemical attacks on Damascus suburbs which killed hundreds of people. Assad's regime has denied any responsibility.
 
Before leaving for Baghdad, Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Iran was "more worried" by the developments in Syria than in any other regional countries.
 
"The warmongering is happening in our neighborhood, which is an important issue and has made my visit to Iraq necessary," he said.
 
Zarif seized on US President Barack Obama's failure to win support for military action against Syria from world leaders during the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg.
 
"This shows the US and pro-war groups are faced with definite isolation in their pursuit of using war and illegal means to push forward their own foreign policy agenda," he said in Tehran.
 
Iran provides Damascus with material and intelligence support but denies accusations of arming the Assad regime to fight the conflict. 
 
The conflict initially began as a popular uprising in 2011 but then evolved into a fully-fledged civil war that has claimed more than 110,000 lives.
 
Iraq, meanwhile, has sought to publicly avoid taking sides in the civil war between Assad and rebels seeking his ouster, but the conflict has spilled over the border on several occasions.
 
Washington has repeatedly called on Iraq to stop flights allegedly carrying arms from Iran to the Syrian regime. Iraq insists Iran has reduced flights transporting arms to Syria but says Baghdad cannot stop them completely.