Reuters: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a visit to regional ally Syria, pledged support to militant Palestinian factions at a meeting with their leaders in Damascus on Friday, a Palestinian group said. By Suleiman al-Khalidi
DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a visit to regional ally Syria, pledged support to militant Palestinian factions at a meeting with their leaders in Damascus on Friday, a Palestinian group said.
The talks came a few hours after Israel’s defence minister accused Iran and Syria of being directly responsible for Thursday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv which wounded 30 people.
“The Iranian president stressed that Iran strongly stands behind the Palestinian people and their just struggle,” Maher al-Taher, senior official of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Reuters.
“He said the Palestinian people will be victorious as a result of their steadfastness, sacrifices and heroism.”
Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated after talks on Thursday that they backed the right of the Palestinians and Lebanese to resist Israeli occupation.
Israel’s Haaretz daily reported that Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israeli authorities had “decisive proof that the attack in Tel Aviv was a direct result of the Axis of Terror that operates between Iran and Syria”.
TEL AVIV BOMB
Mofaz was also quoted as saying that Iran had funded the attack while the operational orders to the suicide bomber, who came from the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, were issued at the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus.
Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Mofaz as saying that Ahmadinejad was holding a “terrorism summit” with his host, Assad.
Islamic Jihad, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv bombing, the first in the Jewish state since an 11-month truce expired at the end of last year.
Taher said Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah Ramadan Shallah was among those who attended the 90-minute meeting with Ahmadinejad. Also present was Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Ahmed Jibril, leader of the PFLP-GC pro-Syrian faction.
“We discussed the issue of pressure against Syria, Iran and Lebanon and confirmed the need to form a front that groups all the forces that opposes the Zionist-American schemes in the region,” Taher said.
Both regional allies Syria and Iran are facing prospects of showdowns with the U.N. Security Council — Damascus over limited cooperation with an inquiry into the killing of a Lebanese ex-prime minister and Tehran over its attempts to produce nuclear power.
Ahmadinejad has caused an international furore by calling for Israel to be wiped out and describing the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed, as a myth.