TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Leader is blaming the US and Israel for the bloody, 19-month civil war in Syria.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also warns Western powers not to intervene in the conflict.

In his message to Muslims performing the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, he charges that the civil war, which he characterized as “young Muslims killing each other,” is a “crime initiated by the United States and the Zionist regime, Israel,” punishing Syria for resisting Israeli occupation and supporting anti-Israel Palestinian and Lebanese groups.

Khamenei noted “serious dangers” of Western intervention in Syria and other Mideast nations. His statement was read Thursday on Iranian state TV.

Iran has been a close ally of Syria for decades. It has staunchly supported the regime of President Bashar Assad during the civil war.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.