Iran on Sunday rejected an annual U.S. State Department report that called it the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. State TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari as saying the report is "false" and further evidence of the "lack of credibility of reports by the U.S. State Department." "The legitimate struggle of nations which are occupied ... are not examples of terrorism, and such charges in the American report are rejected," he said.
As in many previous years, the report identified Iran as the world's "foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015" through its financing, training and equipping of various armed groups, notably Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as the government of Bashar Assad. Shiite-majority Iran is helping Iraqi and Syrian forces battle DAESH but Tehran has defended its support for Palestinian militant groups, saying they have the right to resist Israel's occupation. Ansari said the U.S. provides "unconditional" support for Israel as it deprives the Palestinians of basic rights and that Washington ignores the role of allies like Saudi Arabia in supporting extremist groups.
The report said that despite reaching a landmark agreement with world powers on its nuclear program, Iran continued to use the Quds Force of its Revolutionary Guard to create instability throughout the Middle East. In addition to arming Hezbollah and the Assad government, Iran also provided weapons and other assistance to militants in Bahrain and remained active in supporting anti-Israel groups such as Hamas, the report said. Iran is also widely suspected of helping Houthi rebels in Yemen, although the report did not mention the alleged connection. Iran denies backing the rebels, saying it has only provided humanitarian aid to Yemen. Bahrain has accused Iran of fomenting unrest in its country and of supplying weapons to Shiite militants behind several bomb attacks on security forces. Iran has denied the claims.