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Source: Reuters

Oct 29, 2023

Iran does not want Israel-Hamas conflict to spread, foreign minister says

WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Sunday said Iran does not want war to "spread out" following the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian militants of Hamas on Israel that killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

Israel has since bombarded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and begun ground operations with the aim of destroying the Iran-backed Islamist group Hamas and returning more than 200 people abducted to Gaza from Israel.

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"We don't want this war to spread out," Amirabdollahian said during an appearance on CNN.

Iran likely knew that Hamas was planning "operations against Israel", the U.S. has said, but initial U.S. intelligence reports showed that some Iranian leaders were surprised by the attack, the deadliest day of Israel's 75-year history.

Amirabdollahian on Sunday dismissed claims directly connecting Iran to the attacks, calling them "baseless."

"We always had political media and international support for Palestine. We have never denied this," he said.

"This is the truth, but in relation to this operation called the Al Aqsa Storm, there was no connection to that data between Iran and this Hamas operation, not my government nor part of my country."

U.S. and coalition troops have been attacked at least 19 times in Iraq and in Syria by Iran-backed forces in the past week.

Amirabdollahian said linking Iran to any attack in the region, if U.S. interests are targeted, without providing proof, is "totally wrong."

People in the region were angry, he said, and "they are not receiving orders from us. They act according to their own interest. Also, what happened, what was carried out by Hamas, it was totally Palestinian."

The United States told the United Nations on Tuesday it does not seek conflict with Iran, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Washington would act swiftly and decisively if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that the U.S. military carried out strikes on two places storing weapons and munitions in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and groups it supports.

Reporting by Jasper Ward Editing by Marguerita Choy and Grant McCool

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