Ali Akbar Salehi

Iran has announced its support for Syrian government reforms and once more cited foreign interference as the cause of unrest in that country.

Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a press conference in Qatar: “There are a number of popular demands in Syria, and the government and President Beshar Assad at its head have expressed all willingness to realize these legitimate demands.”

“According to the supplied information, there are foreign-backed forces trying to create unrest in Syria,” Salehi added: “and so far as the movement is a popular movement of the people, we will support it as we have done in other countries.”

Salehi maintained that a distinction must be made between unrest created by a minority group and the movement of a majority of the people.

“We must not forget that Syria is at the top of the pyramid of resistance in the region, and this resistance is a sacred issue and all the people in the region are responsible for the protection of this front,” Salehi said.

The Islamic Republic refers to the Middle East peace negotiations as “resistance.”

Recently U.S. president Barack Obama accused Iran of assisting the Syrian government in its crackdown on popular protests.

Syria has been facing protests since March, with demands for an end to emergency law, the release of political prisoners and an end to corruption.

The government and official Syrian media have attributed the unrest to foreign conspiracies and, since last week, military units have been deployed in various Syrian cities to crack down on the opposition.

Human rights groups have accused Syrian security forces of killing more than 500 demonstrators.