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Iran Denies Aiding Hezbollah, Describes Israeli Claim as 'Propaganda'


An Iranian government spokesman has denied charges that Iran is aiding the Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah. He also warned Israel of dire consequences if it attacks Syria.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said there are no Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighting alongside Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Asefi also dismissed charges that Iran has provided missiles to Hezbollah as "propaganda." He said Hezbollah is strong enough to take care of itself.

An Israeli army general, Udi Adam, said Sunday that Iranian troops are helping Hezbollah fire rockets into Israel, and that Israel has identified the Iranian troops.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim organization, was founded after the 1982 Israel invasion of Lebanon. It took its inspiration from the 1979 Iranian revolution, and most Western analysts believe it gets considerable military and financial support from the Iranian government. The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

Iran claims it gives only moral support to Hezbollah. On Saturday Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, spokesman for Iran's powerful Guardian Council, reiterated Iran's assertion that it has no influence over the group.

Spokesman Asefi also said Iran stands by Syria, which has also been accused of backing Hezbollah, in the current crisis.

He warned Israel against attacking Syria, saying it will face great losses if it does so.

After Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers, Israel began attacking targets in Lebanon in a bid to cripple Hezbollah and win the release of the kidnapped soldiers. Hezbollah has retaliated by firing rockets into Israel. President Bush has said Israel has every right to defend itself from Hezbollah attacks.

Late Saturday, Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has kept up a steady stream of harsh rhetoric against Israel, likened Israel's attacks on Lebanon to the ones of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler that began World War II.

President Adhmadinejad, who was elected one year ago, has been internationally condemned for questioning the existence of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews are estimated to have been killed by the Nazi regime.