Kerry Denies Telling Zarif of ‘Israeli’ Strikes after GOP Demands He Resign Over Leaked Audio
By Staff, Agencies
US climate envoy John Kerry denied passing information on ‘Israeli’ military attacks against Syria to his one-time Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who revealed the information in leaked audio, enraging GOP critics.
A controversial recording leaked to the New York Times on Sunday captured a far-reaching, hours-long discussion between Zarif and economist Saeed Leylaz. At one point in the sit-down, Zarif says Kerry informed him that Tel Aviv had carried out more than 200 strikes on “Iranian interests” in Syria, a revelation Zarif reportedly called “astonishing.”
Recorded last month and originally obtained by the London-based Farsi news outlet Iran International, the leaked audio quickly sparked demands from Republican lawmakers for Kerry to step down, among them Senators Dan Sullivan [Alaska] and Rick Scott [Florida].
Meanwhile, New York GOP Representative Elise Stefanik went even further, saying the former secretary of state “must be immediately investigated and prosecuted.”
However, Kerry weighed in later on Monday night to set the record straight amid the controversy, insisting the allegations are “unequivocally false.”
“This never happened – either when I was secretary of state or since,” he added.
Prior to Kerry’s denial, State Department spokesman Ned Price rushed to the climate envoy’s defense, telling reporters during a Monday press briefing that while he couldn’t speak to the “authenticity” or “accuracy” of the leaked audio, “I would just make the broad point that if you go back and look at press reporting from the time, this certainly was not secret.”
Price presumably referred to a 2018 Reuters report that also stated Tel Aviv had launched 200 strikes on Iranian targets in Syria over the prior two years, citing a senior ‘Israeli’ official.