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.
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.