Hamas Support for Syrian Rebels Hurts Iran Ties

GAZA (Reuters) -

Hamas said on Wednesday its relations with financial backer Iran have suffered as a result of the terrorist group’s support of rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Iranian ally.

Hamas was also once an Assad ally but last year endorsed the revolt against him in a shift that deprived the Syrian leader of an important Sunni Muslim supporter in the Arab world.

“Our relations with Iran were affected both on the political and the financial levels,” said Ghazi Hamad, deputy minister of foreign affairs in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Hamad declined to provide any figures for the amount of aid Hamas receives from Iran or give details of any cutbacks, other than to say “it did not get to the point of boycott (from Tehran)”.

A diplomatic source in the region said Iran has provided Hamas with up to $20 million a month to help pay the salaries of nearly half of 50,000 Gaza government employees.

Hamad said Hamas was still meeting its payroll and “had lots of other sources” for money. But he added: “Things are not easy … and we are trying to overcome the problem.”