Iran ex-president's daughter blames Tehran for deaths of 500,000 Syrians
Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose father Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, gave an interview to the Iranian Ensaf News site on Saturday criticising the Iranian government's regional policies.
The interview was conducted on the fourth anniversary of her father's death.
She said that the former Iranian president, who was a key reformist figure in Iran and remained influential long after he left the presidency, had opposed Tehran's involvement in Syria and advised Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) general who was killed in a US airstrike on 3 January 2020, not to go there.
Soleimani has been described as the "architect of Syria’s war" and many Syrians hold him responsible for atrocities committed during the conflict. Iran and its supporters in the region have recently reiterated vows to seek revenge against the US for his assassination.
"On the anniversary of Soleimani’s death, we’re not hearing anyone talk about what he did. My father had foresight when he told him not to go to Syria and he was correct," Rafsanjani said.
She said that Iran’s intervention in Syria had led to "the loss of our friends", adding that Iran’s foreign and domestic policies had alienated many people.
"As a result of our assistance to Bashar al-Assad, the result has been the killing of 500,000 people at least, whether by chemical or other weapons. This is wrong."
In 2013, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani strongly criticised Assad, calling him a "person without mercy" and accusing him of using chemical weapons in Ghouta and filling up prisons with political detainees. Iranian state media at the time tried to censor his comments, which later surfaced in videos on YouTube.
In her interview with Ensaf News, Faezeh Rafsanjani also criticised the Iranian state for silence about atrocities committed against Muslims elsewhere in the world.
"If killing Muslims in Syria is a bad thing, then it's a bad thing everywhere. Why don't we have a problem with Russia when it kills Chechens and China when it kills Uighurs and hurts our interests?"
Ali Akbar Rafsanjani died of a heart attack on 8 January 2017 at the age of 82. In his later years there were tensions between him and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and anonymous members of his family have said that high radiation levels were present in his body when he died, adding that his death was "not due to natural causes".