NICOSIA Ñ Syria, alarmed by the impending collapse of its neighbor
and ally, has called for suicide missions against U.S. forces in Iraq.
Syrian President Bashar Assad also called on Arab regimes to oppose the
U.S.-led war against Iraq. He warned that Syria could be the next target of
Assad said in an interview with the Beirut-based A-Safir daily that
Damascus would not wait until the United States attacks Syria, Middle East Newsline reported. He did not
"We will not wait until we become the next target," Assad said.
The mufti of Syria, appointed by the regime, called on Muslims to launch
suicide attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. The statement came amid concern
expressed by the Syrian regime over the U.S. advance on Baghdad.
"I call on Muslims to use all means possible to thwart the aggression,
including martyr operations against the hostile invaders," Sheik Ahmad
Kaftaro, the mufti, said in a statement on Thursday. "This is the obligation
of all Muslims."
Kaftaro said the obligation to fight coalition forces begins with
Muslims in Iraq. He also called on Westerners to protest the participation
of their governments in the war against Iraq.
Western intelligence sources said Syria has increased preparations of
its military amid the war in Iraq. They said Assad has ordered accelerated
production of the medium-range Scud C and D missiles, which have a range of
550 and 700 kilometers, respectively.
Assad said he expected an Israeli attack. He said Syria would remain
under threat as long as Israel exists.