"We say clearly that we stand by Syria, leadership and people, in the face of its targeting by the Americans and Zionists and attempts to punish it politically for standing by Lebanon and its resistance," Shaikh Hassan Nasr Allah told a big rally in Beirut's southern suburb on the occasion of Jerusalem (al-Quds) Day on Friday.

A UN inquiry led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis named senior Syrian officials as suspects in the assassination in February of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

The report prompted the US and France to put forward a draft resolution at the UN Security Council demanding Syria cooperate fully with the inquiry and threatening economic sanctions.

"What we are witnessing today is the using of the Mehlis report to punish Syria for a crime that it has not been convicted of as a punishment for its political and strategic options," Nasr Allah said.

He accused the Americans of taking advantage of the Mehlis report to put political pressure on Syria.

As for the report itself, the Shia leader criticised it for not producing hard evidence but only suspicions that could be dispelled.

Nasr Allah also condemned Mehlis' mention of a personality he called "X" in his report, saying the remark was as much as a "national insult".

Furthermore, the Hizb Allah chief accused the UN secretary-general's Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen of seeking to sow discord and whip up tensions between the Lebanese and Syrians on the one hand and between the Lebanese and Palestinians on the other hand.

He said: "Terje Roed-Larsen seems to be exercising a sort of international trusteeship over Lebanon, which was revealed by his report on the implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1559."

"No Lebanese government has ever committed to implementing this decision," Nasr Allah said.