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Iran says US must 'control' Israel to avert regional war

Iran says US must 'control' Israel to avert regional war
October 13, 2023 Web Desk

BEIRUT (AFP) - The United States must rein in Israel to avert a regional spillover of the war with Hamas, Iran's top diplomat said Friday in Beirut, adding Tehran was seeking to safeguard Lebanon's security.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke as Hamas and Israel traded heavy fire for a seventh day, after hundreds of Hamas gunmen stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel on Saturday and killed 1,200 people.

Israel has retaliated by raining air and artillery strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, leaving more than 1,570 people dead. "America wants to give Israel a chance to destroy Gaza, and this is... a grave mistake," Amir-Abdollahian said, adding, "if the Americans want to prevent the war in the region from developing, they must control Israel."

Although Tehran has been a long-term backer of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Iranian officials have been adamant the Islamic republic had no involvement in the militant group's weekend attack on Israel. Looking to hold off a spillover of fighting into Lebanon following border tensions in recent days, Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Beirut on Thursday night, following a stop in Baghdad.

"Lebanon's security and peace is important to us," Amir-Abdollahian said after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. "One of the goals of our trip is to stress on Lebanon's security," he added. But he did not completely rule out the chance of an escalation.

During a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart later on Friday, he said: "If the systemic war crimes of the Zionist regime do not stop immediately, any possibility is conceivable." Tehran was working to host an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 member states, he added.

"In this regard, the initial coordination has been carried out with the secretary general of the OIC," the minister told reporters. Also on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian met with Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah to discuss "potential outcomes" and the "positions that must be taken" in light of the latest developments, according to a Hezbollah statement. Israel has traded fire with Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon in recent days, although the tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited.