Damascus rejects U.S. request to shut down Islamic Jihad offices
Syria on Tuesday rebuffed a U.S. request to close the Damascus office of Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for killing 12 Israelis in a Hebron ambush on Friday. It said the office had nothing to do with the attack in the West Bank city.
The move marked the latest round of sparring between Washington and Damascus over its backing of Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which the U.S. administration calls "terrorist" but Syria backs as legitimate resistance to Israel.
According to Reuters, Syria's Foreign Ministry said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made the request in a letter at the weekend, but said the Hebron attack, which killed nine soldiers and three Jewish settlers, was the product of Israel's occupation, not the work of Jihad in Damascus.
"The Syrian government has more than once made clear the informational character of these offices, whose work is limited to expressing their viewpoint," a statement from the ministry's press attache said.
"It is well known that these operations are planned and carried out in the occupied territories as a result of the continuation of the occupation and its practices, and not based on instructions issued by the media offices that are found in some Arab capitals," the statement said.
"The United States is responsible for the current bloodletting because it supports the Israeli occupation and helps Israel shrug off...(U.N.) Security Council resolutions calling for the end of the occupation and the dismantling of settlements," it added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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