Iran Supreme Leader Calls Hezbollah Chief 'World Favorite'
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei feted Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah as the "people's favorite person all over the world," state television said.
His comments coincided with Nasrallah vowing to strike cities in the centre of Israel and declaring that the Jewish state had failed to win any military victory after days of bloody clashes with his Shiite militant group.
"The courageous resistance of the Lebanese people and Hezbollah is the manifestation of the rebellious spirit of Muslim and Arab nations against America," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
"Today all the Arab and Muslim nations are supporting Hezbollah. Since it is resisting America and the Zionist regime, the leader of Hezbollah has become the people's favourite person all over the world," Khamenei insisted. READ MORE
The supreme leader made the comments in a meeting with visiting Venezuelan president and fellow anti-American Hugo Chavez.
Shiite Muslim-dominated Iran is Hezbollah's main international supporter, although the Islamic republic insists it only provides "moral support" to the movement.
Since the Israeli attack on Lebanon began on July 12, Tehran has been festooned with posters of Nasrallah. Israel and Western governments have also stepped up their allegations that Iran finances and arms the group.
"The Americans are still not ready to understand what is happening, so they are accusing others of interfering in Lebanese affairs," Khamenei said in response to those allegations.
According to Khamenei, "the Zionist aggression against Lebanon is a pre-planned plot by the Americans."
He also hit out at the UN Security Council -- currently pressuring Iran over its disputed nuclear programme -- by complaining that "world bodies are not bothered and they do not object" to Israel's attack.
"The Americans got the Zionist regime involved in it, thinking they will take a long stride towards the creation of an American Middle East. But they did not factor the Lebanese people into their calculation," Khamenei told Chavez, who had earlier declared his unity with Iran to "defeat imperialism."
"The Americans were aiming at creating lackey governments, but Hezbollah's blistering attack... has foiled the American plot," Khamenei added.
In a televised address broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television Saturday, Nasrallah hailed Syria and Iran for continuing to "stand by" Hezbollah and Lebanon and for "using all their capabilities to stop the aggression on Lebanon, so that nobody accuses them of using their (influence) for their own interests in the region."