Syrian opposition fighters have criticised the Iranian nuclear agreement as enabling the ongoing disintegration of their country and empowering Tehran despite its support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Opposition fighters said the agreement, which will provide billions of dollars of sanctions relief to the Iranian government, strengthens a widely held belief that the US does not wish to see Assad’s departure.
But they said the deal’s impact would not immediately be felt on the ground in Syria given Iran’s already plentiful support for Assad, and vowed to press on with their campaign.
“It is the belief of many on the ground that America and Iran are strategic allies, and all the overt signs of animosity are simply hypocrisy,” said Ahmad al-Alwan, a religious official with the Army of Conquest, an alliance of rebel groups in the north of Syria that scored a series of victories against the regime’s army this year.
“Iranian assistance has never been severed from Assad and Iran has been aiding Assad above and below the table before the entire world with the tools to kill the Syrian people,” he added. “The nuclear agreement will not change this equation.”
Signed by western powers along with Russia and China, the historic deal with Iran will limit the country’s nuclear programme and subject it to inspections in exchange for the removal of numerous international sanctions that have battered the Islamic Republic’s economy.
But critics of the deal say Iran is likely to use a portion of its windfall to expand its influence across the Middle East, appearing to have gained from its expansionism in Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad.
“We have a real fear that Iran will use the unfrozen accounts for more shameless intervention in the region and enflaming strife and war, as well as providing more support to the Assad regime to prevent its fall and allow it to continue carrying out terrorist massacres against the Syrian people,” said Mohammed Maktabi, the secretary general of the Syrian National Council, the exiled opposition.