Ahmadinejad, Assad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad Photo by AP
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the Syrian government to accept the reforms demanded by its people, ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

"We recommend to the regional states to acknowledge their people's will for freedom and justice," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network, carried by ISNA news agency.

"Also the Syrian government and people should be careful and implement the necessary reforms by themselves," the Iranian president said in another interview with the Al-Manar television network, carried by ISNA.

Iran has 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 Ahmadinejad has stayed silent over the uprisings in its regional ally Syria until now.

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

Ahmadinejad also has a word of caution for the Syrian demonstrators, saying the Western powers only wanted to protect Israel.

"The Westerners will not bring anyone prosperity and welfare but are just after their own interests and after saving the Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad said.

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