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Syrian Opposition Leader Labels Iran ‘Main Obstacle’ To Peace Deal

The lead negotiator for the Syrian opposition at peace talks in Geneva has singled out Iran as the biggest obstacle to settling the conflict in Syria.

Nasr al-Hariri told reporters on February 23 that violations to a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey have continued across the country, mainly because of Iran-backed militia fighting alongside the Syrian government.

"Iran is the main obstacle to any kind of political deal," Hariri said, but Russia -- which is also Syria's ally -- shares the blame.

"Russia failed to control the regime and the militias that fight with the regime," he said. "They failed to control Iran."

Hariri also accused Iran of fueling sectarian strife in the broader Middle East region, echoing a line recently taken by Turkey, the main backer of Syria's opposition groups.

He urged Washington to reengage in the region and put pressure on Iran, which he said has "spread tens of thousands of sectarian fighters."

"There needs to be a regional, international effort to put a stop to Iranian interventions in the region. This is what is expected from the United States," he said.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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