LATEST: FM Zarif Says Facebook Account Hacked

SUMMARY: Since his inauguration on August 4, President Rouhani has tried to apply his foreign policy of “moderation” to the Syrian conflict. While other Iranian officials have blamed insurgents for the August 21 chemical weapons attacks and used the derogatory label “Takfiris” to depict Muslim heretics backed by a US-Israeli-Saudi plot, Rouhani has limited his comments to condemnation of chemical weapons — citing Iran’s suffering from Iraqi attacks in the 1980s — and a call for a political resolution.

On Friday, however, Rouhani was quoted as telling a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization:

We…believe that arming extremist and takfiri groups, and especially these groups’ access to chemical weapons, is the greatest danger for regional peace and security and must be paid attention to in all plans. In addition, all measures to reach a political solution must condemn and neutralize any threats and reliance on force.

Did Rouhani really use these words, including his implied link of insurgents to the August 21 attacks and the “takfiri” description?

The report is in Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, which has been waging an all-out campaign for a hard-line approach to Syria, and which has been known to exaggerate and even falsify comments.

And there’s another curiosity. When State outlet Press TV first posted its account on Friday, it put “Takfiri” use of chemical weapons front-and-center. This morning, there is a shift: while Rouhani’s alleged comments are untouched, the headline has been altered to “Militants Access to Chemical Arms Threatens Regional Security“.

FM Zarif Says Facebook Account Hacked

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has told Iranian Students News Agency that his Facebook page was hacked, putting out false information.

Zarif has now apparently regained control, posting regrets that “this page has been abused”.

Zarif recently attracted publicity for the page, one of the first to be publicly maintained by a high-ranking Iranian official.