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Iran's Ahmadinejad in new tirade against Israel


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Zionism as "occupation" and "aggression" Tuesday as he delivered his latest diatribe against the Jewish state on a visit to key Middle East ally Syria.

"The Zionist occupiers are destructive microbes, because Zionism itself is occupation, aggression, the use of assassination and annihilation," he told a joint news conference with President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian capital.

"Zionism was created to threaten us. To support the Palestinian resistance is a humanitarian and popular obligation," Ahmadinejad said in remarks in Farsi that were translated into Arabic.

"Syria and Iran are united in supporting the Palestinian resistance."

The Iranian president's comments came barely two weeks after he sparked a European walkout from a UN anti-racism conference in Geneva by equating Zionism with racism.

He has gone further in the past, predicting that the Jewish state is doomed to be wiped from the map and describing the Holocaust as a myth.

Ahmadinejad asked why it was the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza that is blacklisted by the European Union and the United States, and not Israel after its devastating offensive against the territory at the turn of the year.

"They've attacked Gaza, killing people in their own land and massacring women and children... and yet it's the Palestinians they accuse of terrorism," he complained.

Ahmadinejad, whose visit to Damascus came as Defence Secretary Robert Gates toured US allies in the region to reassure them about overtures to the Tehran regime by President Barack Obama, hit out at the continuing US military presence on Iran's borders.

"They weren't invited in. They're unwelcome visitors who should leave Afghanistan and the borders of Pakistan," the Iranian president said.

"We don't want honey from bees that sting us. Efforts must be made to rid the region of the presence of foreigners... and to reform the unjust global political and economic system."

Ahmadinejad said Iran and Syria were standing together to "resist foreign intervention and the major powers trying to impose their hegemony over the region."

The United States "has put pressure on Syria and Iran, but it needs us and wants to develop relations," he said.

"Circumstances are changing rapidly in our favour. We are on the road to victory."

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