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Iran funds al-Aqsa mosque model

Oct. 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- A copy of one of Islam's holiest sites has been built near the Lebanese border with Israel in honor of a visit by Iran's president, officials said.

With funding from Iran, work has been carried out around the clock to complete a small scale model of al-Aqsa mosque, considered Islam's third holiest site and on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem ahead of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the region next week, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth said Tuesday.

The mosque, built in the south Lebanese village of Maron A-Ras, is an exact replica of the East Jerusalem mosque with one exception -- an Iranian flag flies on top of the gold dome, the newspaper said.

Work on the mosque began months ago. It will be inaugurated by Ahmadinejad during his visit, the paper said.

Ahmadinejad plans to stand outside the structure and throw stones at Israeli soldiers deployed on the other side of the border, the paper said.

The report said Israel is not the only country who opposes the Ahmadinejad visit to the area.

Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly advised Ahmadinejad to refrain from visiting the border area to avoid escalating tensions, the paper said.

If the Iranian president goes ahead with the visit, it will be the first time he has visited the country since he became president in 2005, the paper said. During the two-day visit, Ahmadinejad will meet with Lebanon's president and prime minister and also with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, the report said.

The Arabic name for al-Aqsa mosque is al-Haram ash-Sharif or Sacred Noble Sanctuary. The third holiest site in Islam, it is where Mohammed was transported from the sacred mosque in Mecca.

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