Bashar Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Reuters Oct. 2. 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomes his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran October 2, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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An Iranian lawmaker said Iran should have supported Syrian protesters rather than sticking by the government, the news website Khabar Online reported Thursday.

"The fact is that supporting the Syrian rulers at any cost was not right as those who staged the protests were Muslims and their protests were legitimate," said Ahmad Avaei, member of the parliament's national security commission.

The lawmaker said the Iranian government should have adopted a wiser stance on developments in Syria, even though Syria took the same political line as Tehran against Israel and for the anti-Israeli Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon.

"Unfortunately, the Syrian leadership has realized too late the necessity of entering the reform process and should have done that much earlier to avoid the current crisis," the lawmaker said.

Tehran backed several of the anti-government protests during the Arab Spring, saying the voice of the people "echoes the Islamic reawakening" and should be heard but stayed silent over the uprisings in its regional ally Syria.

Iran was accused by the European Union of aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad in violently suppressing the unrest through the Revolutionary Guards' Al-Quds force. Tehran dismissed the charges as lies.

Tehran slightly changed its tone in recent weeks by cautiously calling on the Syrian government to accept the reforms demanded by its people. At the same time, it warned against foreign interference and what it called the grave regional and international impact of trying to topple Assad.

Syria has historically supported Tehran's anti-Israel stance, and this support could be weakened by a political change in Damascus.

Damascus has also supported the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, a firm ally of Tehran and an equally firm enemy of Israel.