Iran, Hezbollah Denounce Demascus Attack
Iranian officials and Hezbollah leader Seyed Hassan Nasrallah denounced Wednesday's blasts in Damascus that killed three high-level officials in President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Calling the attacks terrorism, they said they were the result of armed foreign meddling in Syria aimed at undermining their so-called axis of resistance—entities in the Middle East that oppose Israel and the U.S.
Still, Iran and Hezbollah called for dialogue and overhauls, suggesting a tacit change of tone and acknowledgment of the Syrian opposition's demands.
Mr. Nasrallah delivered a fiery televised speech on Wednesday, in which he justified Hezbollah's support for Mr. Assad, saying Syria gave Hezbollah and Hamas missiles for attacking Israel.
"We reiterate our call for persevering Syria and the only solution is accepting dialogue," Mr. Nasrallah said. But added that he hoped Syria's army would have the resolve to "crush the hope of the enemy."
Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political and militant group, have until now publicly supported Mr. Assad. But some analysts now say pragmatic voices in both camps are calling for distance from Mr. Assad and planning for his eventual ouster.
"Today's event was more than a wake-up call for Iran and Hezbollah, the honeymoon with the Syrian regime is coming to an end," said Hilal Khashan, a political-science professor at American University of Beirut.
For Hezbollah, Syria presents a solid Arab ally in a landscape that is rife with Sunni-Shiite tensions. Syria has also served as a route for Hezbollah's weapons and cash from Iran.
For Iran, Syria is a front line for influence and power in the Arab world and a lifeline to its most important proxy group.
But Arab public opinion for Hezbollah and Iran have fallen amid their defiant backing of Mr. Assad and raised resentment among Syrian opposition supporters.
In Iran, a public debate has started on whether the Islamic Republic should change its policy and reach out to the Syrian opposition. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran was ready to sit down with the Syrian opposition and even offered to mediate a meeting between the two sides. Syria's opposition rejected the offer.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who serves as an adviser on international affairs for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday renewed Iran's call to host a meeting with the opposition.
The Arab League said it would hold an emergency meeting on Sunday in Doha to discuss Syria.