Skip to comments.Syrian president defends anti-U.S. attacks in Iraq as legitimate 'resistance'
Posted on 04/28/2004 3:50:48 PM PDT by yonif
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Syrian President Bashar Assad described armed attacks against U.S.-led troops in neighboring Iraq as legitimate "resistance" against foreign occupation.
His remarks, aired Wednesday on the Qatar-based pan-Arab al-Jazeera satellite station, are likely to strain already tense U.S.-Syrian relations.
Assad, whose country strongly opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq, said anti-American resistance was widespread in Iraq, where most people opposed the U.S. occupation.
"The public reaction (in Iraq to the U.S. occupation) ... gives legitimacy to the resistance," Assad said, adding that Iraqi opposition stems from the killing of Iraqi civilians by American-led soldiers.
Al-Jazeera did not say when the interview was conducted, but it was apparently before Tuesday's terrorist attack in Damascus, Syria, since Assad was not asked about it. Four gunmen detonated a bomb placed under a car before firing bullets and grenades at Syrian security forces, an Interior Ministry official told the state-controlled SANA news agency.
The government said two attackers, a policeman and a civilian were killed.
Assad also compared militant Palestinian factions fighting Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands to the Iraqi insurgents seeking to end the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
"Is it logical that all these hundreds of thousands and millions (of people) who are resisting occupations in different forms ... are all al-Qaida ... or all supporters of the Saddam Hussein regime, as they (U.S. forces) say?" Assad asked in the interview, monitored by The Associated Press in Lebanon.
Since early April, U.S. forces have been locked in fierce battles with Sunni fighters in Fallujah, near Baghdad, and with militiamen of a radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric in southern Iraq.
More than 115 U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat this month, the bloodiest of the conflict to date. At least 725 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. Up to 1,200 Iraqis also have been killed this month.
Assad's defense of anti-U.S. attacks in Iraq comes at a time when Syrian ties with America are strained over Iraq and Washington's view that Damascus supports regional terrorism.
Syria has been on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations for supporting anti-Israel groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Damascus says such groups are legitimate resistance fighters and not terrorist, and it has an interest in fighting Islamic extremist groups like Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.
Washington also accuses Syria of allowing foreign fighters cross its borders into Iraq and hindering the war on terror.
In December, President Bush approved the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which accuses Syria of hosting militant Palestinian groups and seeking biological and chemical weapons. Syria denies the weapons claims.
In his TV interview, Assad also blamed some unidentified Arab and Western states for the spread of terrorism by "nurturing terrorist groups."
"They are now paying the price," he said in an apparent reference to terror attacks in various countries.
Like you do with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah?
Syria is a terrorist murderous state.
Doing the former would neutralize the need for the latter. Although, developing nuclear power plants might not be too bad an idea either way...
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