DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria and Iran said Tuesday the United States is waging “economic terrorism” against countries that have different opinions and should pursue its aims through diplomacy instead.

Syrian state news agency SANA quoted President Bashar Assad as saying the Trump administration’s decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization was an “irresponsible move.” Assad spoke at a meeting with Iran’s visiting Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said the U.S. move was “stupid.”

Syria is in the grip of a severe fuel crisis aggravated by sanctions on the Assad government and Iran, its close ally.

Tehran has given the Syrian government billions of dollars in aid and sent Iran-backed fighters to battle alongside its forces — assistance that, along with Russian air power, has helped turn the tide in Assad’s favor.

SANA quoted Assad as saying that the U.S. designation of the Revolutionary Guard “is a continuation of the wrong policies adopted by the United States and could be considered as one of the factors of instability in the region.”

Zarif said the Trump administration’s designation of the Revolutionary Guard and recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on Jerusalem and Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are related and show the “failure of Washington’s policies,” according to SANA.


Zarif was scheduled to meet with Syria’s prime minister and foreign minister before heading to neighboring Turkey.

Russia, Iran and Turkey, who back rival groups in Syria’s conflict, have been sponsoring talks in Kazakhstan to try to end the crisis that has killed some 400,000 people.

Zarif resigned in February after being kept in the dark about a surprise visit by Assad to Tehran, but Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani rejected his resignation and he remained in his post.