- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2017

Despite Iran’s own history as the victim of a mass chemical gas attack by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, top officials in Tehran on Friday condemned President Trump’s punitive missile strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons against the regime’s enemies, accusing Washington of hypocrisy and deception.

The chemical weapon attack has presented a dilemma for the Islamic Republic, which along with Russia is the biggest military backer of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad but which has long condemned the use of chemical weapons given its own history.

With the new Trump administration promising a hard line against Iran, the Islamic Republic apparently has calculated that the threat from Washington takes precedence.

“The U.S. use of a chemical attack in Syria as a pretext for unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and a violation of peremptory principles of international laws, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters in Tehran, according to a report by the Farsnews wire service.

As “the biggest victim of chemical weapons in modern history,” Mr. Qassemi added, Iran “condemns any application of such weapons regardless of the perpetrators and victims.” But the spokesman echoed doubts expressed by Moscow that the Assad regime carried out the attack, and noted that “terrorist groups” like Islamic State and al Qaeda have been accused of stockpiling their own chemical weapon arsenals.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter also raised doubts about the U.S. claims that Mr. Assad ordered the deadly chemical attack on a northern Syrian town controlled an al Qaeda affiliate.

“US aids Saddam’s use of [chemical weapons] against Iran in 80’s,” Mr. Zarif wrote, “then resorts to military force over bogus CW allegations, 1st in 2003 and now in Syria.”

“Not even two decades after 9/11, US military fighting on same side as al Qaeda & ISIS in Yemen & Syria,” he added. “Time to stop hype and cover-ups.”

Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, in a sermon accompanying Friday prayers in Tehran, said the U.S. and its allies were to blame for the violence in Syria and that the U.S. justification was not believable.

“The chemical weapons are in the hands of terrorists and the Syrian army attacks the terrorists, but all are making a hue and cry that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons,” Ayatollah Kashani said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It is a sheer lie.”

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