Syria still harboring terror groups, Congress told

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The United States has determined that Syria has not abided by its pledge to end the presence of groups deemed as terrorists.

U.S. officials said the Bush administration has informed Congress that Syria has failed to close down offices of Islamic or Palestinian insurgency groups around Damascus. They said Syria continues to aid Hizbullah and serve as a route for weapons shipments from Iran.

Officials said the Defense Department has launched a tougher policy toward Syria as a ressul of its continuing cooperation with leaders of the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein. They said a U.S. special operation force fought Syrian troops along the Iraqi border last week during a U.S. attempt to capture a convoy believed to have contained senior members of the Saddam regime.

At least five Syrian soldiers were said to have injured and three of them were taken prisoner, Middle East Newsline reported.

The administration has told Congress that Washington will formulate new measures to pressure Syria to end its support for terrorist groups.

Officials said some of the measures being considered include a greater U.S. effort to monitor Syria's land and sea borders.

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that Syria has failed to satisfy U.S. demands to end the presence of a range of Palestinian and Islamic insurgency groups. Last month, Powell said Syria had closed down the offices of several such groups, an assertion disputed by Israel and later by Damascus itself.

"They took some limited steps," Powell said in a news conference on Friday in Jerusalem. "Those limited steps are totally inadequate. We have gone back to the Syrians to let them know that we find their actions inadequate. We will continue to press them. We will work with our colleagues in the international community to put pressure on Syria."

Powell suggested that U.S. pressure on Syria would be gradual and staged. He did not elaborate.

"We are going to make it clear to Syria that until they move in this more positive direction that we have outlined for them, there will not be a better relationship with the United States, and ultimately it will affect their interests," Powell said.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover