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Syria, Iran Hail 'Martyr', 'Honorable' Chavez

Syria pays tribute to "honorable" Chavez, while Iran hails the late Venezuelan leader as "a martyr for his people."
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/6/2013, 5:19 PM

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
Reuters

Syrian state media paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday, saying he had taken an "honorable" position on the two-year-old uprising against the Damascus regime.

The Venezuelan president, known for his anti-Semitic and anti-American tendencies, passed away on Tuesday following a two-year battle with cancer.

Chavez "stood on the side of the Arabs' legitimate rights," said a commentary carried by SANA state news agency. "He took an honorable stance regarding the conspiracy against Syria."

Chavez was a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and maintained close ties with his regime even as the revolt degenerated into a bloody civil war, drawing mounting international support for the armed opposition.

Chavez "repeatedly expressed his solidarity with the Syrian leadership and people, who have been faced with a savage imperialist attack. He denounced American pressure on Syria," SANA reported.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad also expressed his condolences over the passion of the Venezuelan dictator saying, "he was a martyr for his people," and that he "defended human and revolutionary values."

The Iranian President announced that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning in memory of Chavez.

State news agency IRNA reported that Ahmadenijad may attend Chavez's funeral on Friday.

Anti-Semitism in Venezuela sky-rocketed in recent years, resulting in a dramatic reduction in Jewish population. Before Chavez came to power, the Jewish community amounted to approximately 30,000, while today its numbers reach a mere 9,000.

Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted in September that Venezuela has witnessed a rise in  “anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions."