February 1, 2013 - 09:59 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday, Jan 31, that both Iran and Russia continued to provide military support to the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad and that there were indications that Iranian assistance was increasing, The New York Times reported.
The airstrike that Israel carried out on Wednesday in Syria on an arms convoy that was believed to be en route to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, and Iran’s subsequent warnings that the Israeli attack would lead to “grave consequences,” have raised concerns that the conflict is becoming a regional one.
Clinton, who will leave her State Department post on Friday, declined to discuss the Israeli operation.
But she noted that Iran appeared to have stepped up its aid to the Assad government, including the number of military advisers it was sending to Syria and the quality of military equipment it was providing.
“The Iranians have made it clear for some time that keeping Assad in power is one of their highest priorities,” she said in her final meeting with reporters at the State Department. “There is a lot of concern that they are increasing the quality of the weapons because Assad is using up his weaponry. So it is numbers and it’s matériel.”
Russia’s backing for Assad, she added, remains a worry as well.
“The Russians are not passive bystanders in their support for Assad,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We have reasons to believe that the Russians continue to supply financial and military assistance in the form of equipment to Assad.” Clinton outlined her vision of diplomacy in a speech on Thursday afternoon at the Council on Foreign Relations, repeating her themes that economic development and the use of social media were important complements to military force and the other more traditional levers of power.
“We face challenges, from financial contagion to climate change to human and wildlife trafficking, that spill across borders and defy unilateral solutions,” she said. “The geometry of global power has become more distributed and diffuse as the challenges we face have become more complex and crosscutting.”
Iran and major powers have yet to settle on a site and date for resuming talks on the Iranian nuclear program.
“I don’t think the window can remain open for too much longer,” Clinton said. “I am not going to put days, weeks or months on it.”