US sends warning message to Syria
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 10:15:28 GMT
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has echoed Washington's previous allegations that Syria is interfering in neighboring Lebanon.
"A clear message has been delivered to Damascus stating that Washington will not tolerate a Syrian military intervention in Lebanon," Rice said in an interview with al-Arabiya news channel.
On September 22, Syria deployed nearly 10,000 special forces in the Abbudiya region along the Lebanon-Syria border, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned that "extremist forces" were operating in northern Lebanon.
The US warning, however, comes as Lebanese President Michel Suleiman earlier said that the deployment of Syrian troops along the border with Lebanon was in accordance with mutual understanding.
Suleiman said Syria was trying to bolster control over its borders with north Lebanon to 'avert problems'.
Assad also assured Suleiman in a telephone conversation later that Syrian troops on the Lebanon border were there to counter criminal operations.
He said that the troops were stationed as part of several measures by Syria to fight smuggling.
The US accusations against Syria's interference in Lebanon comes as Damascus and Beirut formally launched diplomatic ties for the first time in 60 years after Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree for the opening of full diplomatic relations with Lebanon
The two countries are also likely to exchange ambassadors by the end of 2008.
Despite US warning against Syria, Lebanon has voiced concern over recent Israeli threats against the country.
Information Minister Tarek Mitri said Lebanon would complain to the UN about the threats, which he said should be taken seriously.
A senior Israeli army commander had said that Israel would use "disproportionate force" and destroy villages, mostly located at the Lebanese border with Israel.