The people and the government of Syria are Muslims and the Islamic nations should get involved for a collective understanding to help solve the problem and help the implementation of reforms there,” Ahmadinejad said.

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AFP, Tehran

 

In remarks posted on his website on Friday, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Iran is ready to host a meeting of Islamic nations to help its ally Syria solve its political crisis. “Iran is ready to host a meeting of Islamic countries to reach a collective understanding in order to help Syria,” the website quoted Ahmadinejad telling a group of Kuwaiti journalists. He said the Islamic nations must reach an understanding to help Syria “independent of any foreign” influence, adding such a problem “could occur in any other Arab nation.”

 

“The people and the government of Syria are Muslims and the Islamic nations should get involved for a collective understanding to help solve the problem and help the implementation of reforms there,” Ahmadinejad said.

 

Concerned ally

 

Iran is concerned about the possible collapse of its principal ally in the Middle East and has refrained from condemning Damascus for the violence while suppressing mass protests.

Tehran accuses its traditional foes, Israel and the United States, of causing the trouble in Syria.

On August 24, Ahmadinejad called on the Syrian government to find a “solution” with the protesters, as violence only serves the interests of the “Zionists.”

Since the breakout of the violence in Syria, Tehran has maintained that the issue should be resolved “through dialogue and not violence.”

 

Calling for help

 

Syrian troops killed a teenage boy on Friday as protests broke out across the country, with protest groups urging international protection from a deadly government crackdown on dissent, activists said.

“A 15-year-old boy was martyred when soldiers manning a checkpoint opened fire in the village of Al-Rama, in Jabal al-Zawiyah,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

The rights advocacy group also reported protests in several parts of the country after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

It said “huge protests” gripped the eastern oil hub city of Deir Ezzor as worshippers emerged from mosques and took to the streets “despite heavy security deployment.”

Protests also swept several parts of the capital, Damascus, activists said.

More than 150 people marched in the flashpoint neighborhood of Barza chanting slogans of support for the rebellious central province of Homs “for the protection of Syria and the fall of the regime,” the Observatory said.

Similar scenes were repeated in the neighborhoods of al-Hajar al-Aswad, where arrests were reported, and in Midan, it said.

Democracy activists have called on the United Nations to send international observers to Syria and urged nationwide protests Friday.

“The Syrian people call on the United Nations to adopt a resolution to set up a permanent observer mission in Syria,” activists said on their Facebook page “Syrian Revolution 2011.”

“We demand access to the international media, we demand the protection of civilians,” they said.

More than 2,200 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the government’s crackdown on almost daily pro-democracy demonstrations in Syria since mid-March, according to the United Nations.