Iran and UK in diplomatic battle over Syria war

Iran and UK in diplomatic battle over Syria war
Tit-for-tat diplomatic spat between the UK and Iran is taking place over London's criticism of Tehran's military role in the Syria war.
2 min read
17 December, 2016

Iran summoned the UK's top diplomat based in Tehran for the second time this month to complain about criticism of over the Islamic Republic's role in the Syria war.

It comes after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called in the Russian and Iranian ambassadors in London on Thursday to express his "profound concern" over their countries' role in the "suffering" of the people of Aleppo.

"Following the ill-considered statements and positions of British officials concerning the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Syrian crisis, the British charge d'affaires was summoned to the ministry of foreign affairs to receive the protest," a statement published by state broadcaster said.

A charge d'affaires was summoned as ambassador Nicholas Hopton is currently out of the country.

Iran has provided substantial military and financial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and played a key role in overwhelming rebel forces in Aleppo over the past month.

Much of the Syrian regime's armed forces are made up of Iranian-sponsored militias, including Shia recruits from Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanese force Hizballah.

Tehran has also sent thousands of Republican Guard troops to fight in Syria.

Tensions between Tehran and London have mounted just three months after the two countries restored full diplomatic relations. 

It was only a week ago that Iran summoned Hopton to complain after Prime Minister Theresa May told Gulf allies that the UK would help "push back against Iran's aggressive regional actions".

The two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2011 when protesters stormed the embassy in Tehran, angry over Britainthe UK's role in sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear programme. 

They restored relations following a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers last year.