Iran 'greater than its borders', says high-ranking cleric
"Iran, today, is not only Iran and not limited to a geographical location. Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi, Lebanon's Hezbollah, Yemen's Ansarullah, Syria's National Defence Forces, Palestine's Islamic jihad and Hamas are all Iran," the semi-official news agency ISNA quoted the ultra-conservative Alamolhoda as saying during a Friday prayer sermon.
Iran backs all the mentioned factions, with Hashd al-Shaabi acting as a paramilitary alliance including Iran-backed Shia groups.
Ansarullah are the Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi coalition in Yemen, and the NDF is a pro-regime militia in the Syrian conflict.
Alamolhoda is the Friday prayer leader of northeast Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, and also a member of the Assembly of Experts, an elected council of vetted clerics overseeing the work of Iran's supreme leader and with the authority to dismiss him.
His remarks come only days after strikes on Saudi oil facilities blamed on Iran by the United States and its Gulf allies, charges which Tehran denies.
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for Saturday's strikes on Saudi oil infrastructures, but the United States says it has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounts to "an act of war".
Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war in neighbouring Yemen, has said Iran "unquestionably sponsored" the attacks and the weapons used in them were Iranian-made, but has not directly blamed its regional rival.
"Do you even know where Iran is? Isn't south of Lebanon Iran? Isn't Hezbollah Iran? Both your South and North is Iran," Alamolhoda added, apparently addressing Saudi speculation that strikes came from its north, rather than the south where Yemen lies.
"Ignorant Americans and their mercenary Saudi Arabia say this was done by Iran ... everyone realise they want to fool the world with this," said the prayer leader.
He warned that a potential military strike on Iran would lead to its arch-foe "Israel becoming dust in half a day".
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