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For years, posters celebrating the decades-old alliance joining Syria and Iran festooned the streets and automobiles of the Syrian capital — the images of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embroidered with roses and daffodils.
But that alliance is now strained, and on Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran became the most recent, and perhaps the most unexpected, world leader to call for President Assad to end his violent crackdown of an uprising challenging his authoritarian rule in Syria.