(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Israel against extending its offensive in Lebanon to neighboring Syria and said such a move would equate to an attack against the Islamic world, the official Iranian news agency reported Friday.
Syria and Shiite Muslim Iran are the top backers of the Shiite Hezbollah guerrilla in Lebanon.
"If the occupying regime of Jerusalem attacks Syria, it will be equivalent to an attack on the whole Islamic world and the regime (Israel) will face a crushing response" Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Ahmadinejad made the comments in a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar Assad to assure him of his support.
The Iranian leader called on Muslim countries to create a united front against Israel.
"The Islamic world, especially countries in this region, need more unity and integrity, particularly in the context of Lebanon and Palestine," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
"The Islamic republic of Iran supports the case (for unity) with all its diplomatic capacity," he said.
Separately, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry denied Israeli allegations that the captured Israeli soldiers were being transferred to Iran.
On Thursday, Israel said it had information that Hezbollah guerrillas were trying to transfer the soldiers to Iran, apparently to prevent Israeli troops from rescuing them. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev did not disclose the source of his information.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi categorically denied the allegation.
"This regime (Israel) is trapped in its homemade crisis and these sort of accusations are simply nonsense," he said.
The head of Israel's northern command, Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, said Wednesday that Israel did not intend "at the moment" to take action against Syria over Hezbollah's capture of the soldiers.
The Iranian official news agency stated however that, in his phone conversation with Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Assad had said his country was not intimidated by the Israeli threat and that an attack on Syria would be a mistake that would trigger a swift response.