May 20, 2020 / 9:04 PM / 15 days ago

Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel - supreme leader

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech on the occasion of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, in Tehran, Iran March 20, 2020. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, ahead of this week’s annual observance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day to express support for Palestinians.

“We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this,” Khamenei said in a post on his official English-language Twitter account.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy in the Middle East, has been a key supporter, along with Russia, of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war, sending military advisers as well as material and regional Shi’ite militias.

Israel, which monitors neighbouring Syria intensively, has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria targeting suspected arms and troop movements by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas that Tehran sponsors.

Separately, Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran’s enmity toward Israel was not the same as hostility toward Jewish people.

“The elimination of the government of Israel does not mean the elimination of Jews. We don’t have an issue with Jewish people,” Khamenei said in a post on his official Farsi-language Twitter account.

“‘Elimination of Israel’ means the Muslim, Christian and Jewish people of #Palestine choose their own government themselves and push out foreigners and thugs like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the post added.

Khamenei is scheduled to speak on Friday to commemorate Quds Day.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

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