Regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran have for decades been locked in a struggle for supremacy that is now being played out in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria.

Saudi's Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir and Secretary-General of Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit attend a news conference after the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2018.
Saudi's Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir and Secretary-General of Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit attend a news conference after the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2018. (Reuters)

Arab League leaders on Sunday called for an international probe into the “criminal” use of chemical weapons in Syria and condemned what they see as Iran’s interference in the affairs of other countries.

Regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran have for decades been locked in a struggle for supremacy that is now being played out in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria.

“We stress our absolute condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against the sisterly Syrian people and we demand an independent international investigation to guarantee the application of international law to everyone proven to use chemical weapons,” said a document distributed to journalists.

It emphasised the need for a political solution to the multi-sided Syrian war, which has killed at least half a million people in the past seven years.

A previous statement read out at the close of the summit in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran did not mention Syria.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have expressed support for Saturday’s missile strikes by the United States, Britain and France against three alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, while other Arab states such as Iraq and Lebanon have condemned the strikes.

The Syrian regime denies using or possessing chemical weapons and said the strikes were an act of aggression.

Military help over the past three years from Russia and Iran, which also backs Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and Shia militias in Iraq, has allowed Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.

The communique called for additional international sanctions on Iran and urged Tehran to withdraw “its militias” from Syria and Yemen.

“We renew our strong condemnation of terrorist acts carried out by Iran in the Arab region, and we reject its blatant interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries,” King Salman said in an opening speech. Iran denies the accusations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed co-operating with the Arab League on regional security, specifically in Iraq and Syria following the defeat of Daesh militants there, according to Russian news agencies.

Source: Reuters