Barak Says Syria Ultimately Responsible for Kidnapped Soldiers
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that Syria holds ultimate responsibility for the "hostile acts" on the Lebanon-Israeli border which saw three Israeli soldiers kidnapped.
Barak refused to comment directly on the fate of the three soldiers who were seized in an ambush in the disputed Shabaa region on the border by guerillas from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hizbollah.
But he said: "Syria is the decisive factor, the agent in Lebanon and we ultimately consider that Syria is the addressee and the factor involved that has the responsibility for the hostile actions across the Lebanese border."
Barak has said previously that he holds the governments of Lebanon and Syria responsible for the kidnapping of the soldiers during clashes on the border on the Saturday, and warned of fierce reprisals.
But Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq Shara said Sunday that Damascus did not want any escalation of violence with Israel, either in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon.
"We do not want the escalation to continue," Shara said in Damascus.
Syria is the major powerbroker in Lebanon and maintains at least 30,000 troops there.
Saturday's violence was the first major clash on the Lebanese front since Israel pulled out its troops from the south of the country in May after 22 years of occupation -- GIBOR, Israel (AFP)
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