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Iranian Opposition Groups: Syria Strikes Saved Lives

This April 14, 2018 photo shows a destroyed bus near the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus, Syria.

Two prominent Iranian diaspora opposition groups welcomed Saturday’s U.S.-led air strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, saying the operation will help save lives in Syria’s civil war.

Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) political director Majid Sadeghpour told VOA Persian via Skype that the U.S. and its allies should go further with their military action in Syria.

“The next step should be cutting the hand of the Iranian regime and its Revolutionary Guards not only in Syria but all around the region,” Sadeghpour said. “Without such military action, one should expect more killings of civilians in the region – especially children – by the executioners in Damascus and Tehran.”

Iran has stationed Islamic Revolutionary Guard forces in Syria to prop up its President Bashar al-Assad in his seven-year conflict with rebel groups.

OIAC is allied with exiled Iranian dissident movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which leads the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and advocates the "overthrow" of "religious dictatorship” in Iran.

The U.S.-led military action also won the backing of the Iran National Council for Free Elections opposition group, founded by Iran's exiled crown prince Reza Pahlavi.

Speaking to VOA Persian’s NewsHour program from Paris, the group’s political officer, Reza Pirzadeh, said the targeting of chemical weapons facilities will have a preventive effect.

“Bashar al-Assad has committed massacres for the past seven years with strong backing from Iran and Russia,” Pirzadeh said. “Only God knows what would have happened to more Syrians if Saturday’s operation had not taken place.”

Tehran and Moscow have denied knowledge or support of killings of Syrian civilians by forces loyal to Assad. Washington has accused both nations of spreading misinformation about such killings.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.

An earlier version of this report mistakenly identified Reza Pahlavi as the leader of the Iran National Council for Free Elections. While Pahlavi founded the group, he is no longer its leader. VOA regrets the error.