During an interview with Lebanon’s Mayadeen TV, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that under a new Iranian-Syrian agreement, Iran would help Syria rebuild whatever military forces and industries it deems necessary for its national security, and that Syria and its allies would respond to any aggression. Hinting at Russian military presence in Syria, he said that other nations have “no right to express an opinion” on Iranian presence in Syria. Hatami added that “no country uses chemical weapons when it is winning,” and said that the Iranian people chant “Death to America” because of American injustice towards them. The interview, held in Damascus, aired on August 27.
The following are excerpts:
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami: We believe that the most important thing is to preserve the security of Syria and the Syrian people. The Syrian armed forces are the ones defending Syria, but in order to be able to preserve security, the military force and the country in general must be rebuilt. The most important article in this [Iranian-Syrian] is the rebuilding of the armed forces and the Syrian military defense industries, in order to enable them to regain their full capabilities. In this respect, the Islamic Republic can provide good services, and can participate in the rebuilding of the military forces and industry. With this agreement, we have paved the way to the rebuilding of the Syrian military industries.
Host: Will this include all the military branches, including missiles?
Amir Hatami: Anything that the Syrian government declares necessary for its security, and that Iran is capable of providing to Syria, will be provided to our friendly and brotherly country, in accordance with this agreement.
The Syrian government is much better off right now, and it will not allow any aggression against it to go unanswered.
No country in the world uses chemical weapons when it is winning. The Syrian government has the right to respond to any aggression, just as it responded to previous attacks. At this stage, the Syrian government and its allies will respond. They are ready to respond to any aggression.
The Iranian forces are present in Syria at the request of the Syrian government, and no third country has the right to express an opinion about this, or to make any demands in this regard.
These [sanctions] have caused the noble Iranian people to hate America even more. If not for the deprivation and injustice that America imposes on Iran, the Iranian people would be living in better conditions today. This is why whenever you see the Iranians gather – even when they are discussing purely economic issues – they first recite their slogan of “Death to America,” because they know that everything we go through is because of America, and due to American injustice towards the Iranian people.