Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that Tehran expressed to the US through back channels that it does not want the Gaza war to escalate into a regional conflict while also warning escalation was inevitable if Israel didn’t stop its campaign.
“Over the past 40 days, messages have been exchanged between Iran and the US, via the US interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran,” Amirabdollahian said in an interview with Financial Times published on Friday.
“In response to the US, we said that Iran does not want the war to spread, but due to the approach adopted by the US and Israel in the region, if the crimes against the people of Gaza and the West Bank are not stopped, any possibility could be considered, and a wider conflict could prove inevitable,” he added.
The US has blamed Iran for attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria that started in October due to President Biden’s support for the Israeli assault on Gaza, but Tehran has said it’s not responsible, and the US has never produced evidence to show Iran is directing the attacks.
Amirabdollahian said that the Shia militias in Iraq and Syria that are believed to be responsible for the attacks on US bases are not Iranian proxies. He said the same of Hezbollah, other Palestinian militants, and the Houthis in Yemen, according to Financial Times. But he warned the groups “are not indifferent towards the killing of their Muslim and Arab peers in Palestine.”
Amirabdollahian said the war had already “expanded in the region,” citing Houthis attacks on Israel and the fighting between Hezbollah and Israeli forces that continues to escalate. The US has deployed an enormous amount of firepower to the Middle East in the name of “deterring” regional actors from escalating against Israel, but Amirabdollahian said the US has not threatened to target Iran directly if Hezbollah launched an all-out assault on Israel.
In response to the attacks against US bases, the US has launched three rounds of airstrikes targeting facilities the Pentagon claimed were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. Amirabdollahian said “no Iranian forces were struck” in the US airstrikes. He said one of the facilities was previously used by Iranian “military advisers in the fight against terrorists, but that place was empty of any Iranian forces or supplies at the time of the attack.”
Discussing Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, Amirabdollahian said they “never” asked Iran to enter the war with Israel. Like other Iranian officials, Amirabdollahian maintained Iran was not informed about the October 7 Hamas attack ahead of time, which lines up with US intelligence on the matter.