The Iranian embassy in Beirut "categorically" denied Monday that a senior member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdarans, was being detained in Israel after entering the country from Lebanon, reported the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.
"The information released by the Zionist entity on the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon and the transfer of arms to southern Lebanon are false allegations which don't deserve any attention," an embassy statement said, cited by the agency.
The embassy added, however, that Iran supported "Lebanon's right to continue its resistance until its entire territory is liberated, and will remain by its side and by Syria's side to face Zionist threats."
Fas Houdari, 24, said to be an "assistant" to the 14-year-old son of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, told his interrogators that he fled to Israel because he was persecuted in Iran for criticizing its religious leaders, the Israeli Maariv newspaper had said.
It quoted Israeli security officials as saying the man, who told his questioners he was sent to Lebanon with five other Iranians, had a senior role within the Revolutionary Guards.
"It is unclear to us whether he decided to come to Israel to undertake hostile activity or whether he decided to flee to a Western country because of persecution," the paper quoted a security source as saying.
Maariv said Houdari was arrested by elite Israeli army troops after crossing the border at the Fatema gate crossing last week.
During his trip to Europe last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned about Iran's growing influence in Lebanon through the Lebanese Hizbollah movement.
The London-based Saudi-owned Asharq Al Awsat newspaper was quoted by AFP as saying that "a former Iranian official" had confirmed that a member of the Revolutionary Guard had fled to Israel from southern Lebanon.
The official told the daily that about 80 Revolutionary Guards from the "Jerusalem Battalion" had been training the Lebanese, particularly in firing medium-range missiles, the paper said.
Twenty other Revolutionary Guards were currently "manning four surveillance stations" in southern Lebanon and in the country's eastern Bekaa valley to monitor the movements of Israeli forces across the border, he said.
Dore Gold, a top adviser to Sharon, charged last week that "Iran is establishing a consortium of international terrorism in Lebanon with region-wide implications."
He told AFP that Tehran's Islamic regime now had missiles on Lebanese territory that were pointed at Israel and under the "command-and-control" of Iranian forces - Albawaba.com
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