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Iranians React to Tensions in Middle East with Sympathy, Fear

Amid accusations by the U.S. and other nations that the Iranian government is backing Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, Iranians hold mixed opinions on the current situation in the Middle East.

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  • SIMON MARKS, NewsHour Special Correspondent:

    Suddenly there is a new story on Iran's front pages. The country's nuclear standoff with the West is now below the fold. Temporarily, at least, it's been eclipsed by the violence roiling the Middle East, and residents of Tehran have a new international crisis to discuss.

  • TEHRAN RESIDENT (through translator):

    I sympathize with the Lebanese, not just because they're Muslims, but because they are human beings. They are people, and they have a right to live.

  • TEHRAN RESIDENT:

    This is not Iran's business at all. This is something between Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah and other countries.

  • SIMON MARKS:

    That is not the way Israel, the U.S. and many European nations view things. A foreign ministry spokesman told reporters that Hezbollah is sufficiently strong, that it doesn't need supplies from Iran or Syria, and he warned Israel against widening the current conflict.

  • HAMID REZA ASEFI, Spokesman, Iranian Foreign Ministry (through translator):

    We hope the Zionist regime does not make the mistake of attacking Syria; expanding the front of aggression and attacks will definitely face the Zionist regime unimaginable damages.

  • SIMON MARKS:

    Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is going even further. Weeks ago, he called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Now he's publicly comparing the government in Tel Aviv to the Nazis whose World War II Holocaust he previously denied.

    MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran (through translator): Every day there is an excuse. The Israelis say, "Mister, you took two of our soldiers." They attack; they take out bridges; they hit infrastructure; they hit the water sources and the power plants.

    People are in the streets. They bomb their homes. But you also imprison 10,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. You took innocent people to prison, so should they come attack you, too?