JEDDAH (AFP) - Arab monarchies in the Gulf on late Sunday lambasted Syria’s regime for deploying heavy weapons against civilians while ordering Iran not to interfere in their internal affairs.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council at a meeting in Jeddah also urged the international community to “assume their responsibilities and take measures to protect civilians” in Syria, where according to a watchdog more than 26,000 people have been killed in a revolt that erupted in March 2011. The GCC in a statement issued after the meeting in the Saudi western city condemned “the ongoing massacres which are due to the obstinacy of the regime in using heavy weapons, including planes and tanks” against civilians.

The monarchies ordered Iran to halt its “interference” in their internal affairs, citing an incident at the opening of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran when an official interpreter reportedly replaced the word “Syria” with “Bahrain” in a speech by Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

They asked their powerful neighbour to “cease these acts and not resort to or threaten to use force.”

Bahrain earlier issued a statement saying it had “requested the Iranian government apologise for this act, and take the necessary action to correct the breach and ensure that actions like this one don’t happen again.” Relations between Tehran and Manama have been rocky over Iran’s vocal criticism of Bahrain’s deadly crackdown on protests last year.