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Former Guards chief wants army to help wipe Israel off map

TEHRAN, Nov 17 (AFP) - The former head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards began soliciting volunteers Thursday for a new army to defend the Palestinians, vowing to fight until Israel is eliminated from the world.

"We are not saying that we will send forces into the occupied territories," Mohsen Rezaie told some 1,000 people gathered for the first meeting of the international anti-Zionist group he has been promoting.

"But there are those in Iran who want there to be a presence for a resistance against Israel," he said, cited by the official IRNA news agency.

"The Iranian nation will remain on the battlefield of struggle against Zionism until Israel completely disappears from the face of the world," said Rezaie, now secretary of Iran's oversight Expendiency Council.

He called on Islamic nations to create an air-defence shield to prevent further Israeli bombardments of the Palestinians, a day after the Jewish state pounded Palestinian targets across the West Bank.

An AFP photographer said application forms for a new military force were distributed to the crowd, who were told that applicants would be tested for suitability.

Iran does not recognise Israel and supports the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against the Jewish state which has left more than 230 people dead in the past seven weeks, most of them Palestinians.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Thursday that "serious international action" was needed to stop Israel's "crimes" against the Palestinian people.

"The Palestinian nation's intifada will continue until their rights are restored, and the killing of the courageous Palestinian people's children will only increase the flames of resistance and anger," Asefi said, cited by IRNA.


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