Iran’s Supreme Leader has tried to provide cover for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In a speech to youth in Tehran on Saturday, Ayatollah Khamenei sought to turn attention to Western countries by highlighting chemical attacks by Iraq on Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988.

Without naming the Assad regime, Khamenei said, “Those who are today attacking a certain group over the accusation of using chemicals, openly gave Saddam such materials for making bombs.”

The Assad regime’s attacks include the use of the nerve agent sarin, killing more than 1,400 people in East and West Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013 and about 90 in Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria in April 2017. The regime has not resorted to sarin since Khan Sheikhoun, for which the US retaliated with missile strikes on the airbase from where the attack was launched; however, it has repeatedly used chlorine, including at least seven assaults since January 13 on East Ghouta.

See Syria Daily, March 11: 40+ Civilians Killed as Pro-Assad Forces Try to Isolate East Ghouta Towns

The Iranian regime has never acknowledged the chemical attacks in Syria.

In early September 2013, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said, “The people have been the target of chemical attacks by their own government and now they must also wait for an attack by foreigners.”

However, the remarks of Rafsanjani — put under pressure for his statements since mass protests following the disputed 2009 Presidential election — were quickly removed from the Iranian media and he was denounced by regime leaders.