Iran's FM meets Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Syria

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met in Damascus on Friday with the leaders of two radical Palestinian groups, days after a senior Hezbollah militant was killed in the Syrian capital, members of the Iranian delegation said.

 

Mottaki held separate meetings at the Iranian Embassy with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, said the Iranian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

 

Later in the day, Mottaki held a one-hour meeting with Syrian Vice-President Farouk Al Sharaa to discuss the recent assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior commander in the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is closely allied with Iran and Syria.

 

“We discussed the terrorist crime that led to the martyrdom of one of the most senior commanders in the Lebanese Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah), martyr Imad Mughniyeh,” Mottaki told reporters after his meeting with Al Sharaa.

 

Mottaki also discussed Mughniyeh’s death with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday.

 

Mughniyeh was killed late Tuesday night when his car exploded in an upscale Damascus neighborhood in an incident that was not only a blow to Hezbollah, but also to Syria’s much-vaunted internal security services.

 

Mottaki flew to Damascus on Thursday from Lebanon, where he attended Mughniyeh’s funeral and offered condolences to the man’s family and associates. Underlining Iran’s close ties to Shiite Hezbollah, Mottaki sat between Mughniyeh’s father and Hezbollah’s deputy leader.

 

On Thursday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem said investigations are under way into who was behind the car bomb that killed Mughniyeh. He added that he expected the perpetrators to be found soon.

 

Hezbollah has accused Israel of killing Mughniyeh and vowed revenge, though the Jewish state has denied any involvement in the attack.

 

Hamas leader Mashaal said on Thursday that Mughniyeh’s death would not deter the militant Palestinian group from continuing its resistance against Israel.

 

“We accept the challenge and we are not afraid at all,” said Mashaal at a wake for Mughniyeh at a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.

 

During Friday prayers in Baghdad, Sheik Suhail Al Eqabi read worshippers a statement that was issued on Thursday by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr regarding Mughniyeh’s death.

 

“The dirty hands have stretched out to get (Mughniyeh) and he was sent to paradise where he became a martyr of world Islamic resistance,” Al Eqabi said, reading the statement.

 

Al Sadr on Thursday declared a three-day mourning period for the death of Mughniyeh. (AP)

 

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