Photo: Reuters
President Bashar Assad welcomes his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Ahmadinejad in Damascus
Photo: AP
Syria denies role in Tel Aviv bombing
Syrian officials says Syria was not behing Thursday’s suicide attack in Tel Aviv; Iranian leader visits Syria, meets with Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders and backs Palestinian struggle against Israel; meanwhile, terror leaders vow to continue fight

Syria on Friday denied Israeli accusations that it was involved in the Tel Aviv suicide bombing that wounded over 29 people.


Fayez Sayegh, director-general of the state-run television and radio, told The Associated Press that Syria "had nothing to do with the operation.”


Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Syria planned and Iran funded Thursday's attack on a Shawarma restaurant in Tel Aviv, for which the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.


Sayegh said Israel was trying to link the attack to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Syria, which began Thursday.


“Israel wants to accuse both Syria and Iran, due to Iran's clear stand against the Zionist entity and the Syrian stand against continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people," Sayegh said.


He said that Palestinian attacks in Israel “come from inside,” maintaining the government line that the Palestinian terror groups in Syria are not connected to suicide attacks in Israel and the West Bank.


Ahmadinejad backs Hamas, Jihad


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday met with the heads of Palestinian terror organizations in Damascus, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad chiefs, as part of an official visit to Syria.


The meetings come in the wake of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Thursday for which Israel blamed Tehran and Damascus.


Ahmedinejad reportedly held talks with Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, Islamic Jihad exiled-head Ramadan Shalah and the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Jibril.


Maher Taher of the PLFP told AFP that the Iranian President expressed his full support for the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel. The heads of a dozen Palestinian factions vowed the continuation of violent attacks against Israel and expressed their solidarity with Syria, under pressure for its failure to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry in Lebanon, and Iran, which faces the threat of United Nations sanction over its nuclear activities.


On Thursday, Ahmadinejad met his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad. The meeting was a show of solidarity between Iran and Syria in face of increasing international pressure. The two leaders said they share common views on the situation in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.


“As far as the Palestinian issue is concerned we share an absolutely similar position. We believe Palestine is the property of the Palestinians and therefore we will support their struggle. We see their struggle as the only way to expel the enemy and recognize the right of the Palestinian people. In this respect we support the right of return for Palestinian refugees,” Ahmadinejad told reporters.


The two leaders agreed that Hizbullah should be supported as a resistance movement against Israel but without jeopardizing Lebanon’s stability, noting that the issue of Hizbullah should not be given an international dimension.


President Assad said talks focused mainly on the Iraq and said Syria suppots Iran’s right for peaceful nuclear technology.


“We agreed on most issues raised in our talks. As for the Palestinian issue we agreed that the Palestinian people have a legitimate right for a state, and Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their land. We expressed our support for Palestinian resistance against Israel’s oppressive actions,” Assad said.


As for Lebanon, Assad said: “We expressed our support for stability in Lebanon and the continuation of the resistance there. We reject foreign intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs.”


Ahmadinejad said the Lebanese “are capable of solving their problems alone, while maintaining stability and preserving the resistance,” in a direct reference to Hizbullah.


The Iranian President called on all Lebanese confessions to be patient “in order to overcome the current crisis.”


‘Europeans and not Muslims hurt Jews’


Ahmadinejad spoke at the Assad National Library in Damascus on Thursday, where he addressed senior Syrian officials and the heads of Palestinian terror organizations. Jibril thanked Ahmadinejad for his support to the Palestinians, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.


Jibril commented on past Ahmadinejad remarks that the Holocaust is a myth and Israel should be relocated to Europe, saying that the Europeans and not the Muslims hurt the Jews. The Europeans he said continue to support the robbing Zionists while condemning comments made by Ahmadinejad.


Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Itri said the Assad-Ahmadinejad meeting will boost their country’s resistance to international pressure as Tehran and Damascus boost cooperation.


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