Syria Threatens US with Military Retaliation
Stewart Stogel
News Max.Com: aturday, March 29, 2003
New York--United Nations--Syria's UN Ambassador said that Syria will retaliate if U.S. forces attack. The heated rhetoric came late Friday after Defense Secretary warned Syria to desist from aiding Iraq. "I have seen photos of arms and military supplies crossing the border from Syria into Iraq," Rumsfeld said to reporters at the Pentagon. "If this does not stop we will consider it hostile," Rumsfeld said.
Reports suggest that Damascus has been secretly smuggling fresh arms and ammunition, and items such as night vision googles, to beseiged Iraqi troops. Responding to Rumsfeld's claims, Syria's UN ambassador Mikhail Wehbe had a terse reaction as he left a meeting of the Security Council Friday night. "We believe that these accusations are a mark of failure of the US/British invasion of Iraq," Wehbe said.
"And, because of the failure (Rumsfeld) is trying unfortunately to mislead the American people with making these accusations. In particular to Syria at this stage, to cover their killing of innocents and civilians in the hundreds in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and everywhere else."
Wehbe also warned the Pentagon that if the US military decides to move against Syria, Damascus will respond with military force. He said Syria is prepared "to react in kind."
Suspicious Activities
In recent days a number of suspicious activities have surfaced around Damascus, the Syrian capital. Last Sunday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri slipped past coalition troops in northern Iraq to surface in Damascus on his way to an Arab summit in Cairo. After the Cairo summit, Sabri returned to Damascus only to again pop up in Baghdad, shortly thereafter. "It sure has us stumped, we don't know what's going on and how he (Sabri) is moving in and out of the country," confided one State Dept. official who requested anonymity. Israel has also warned that Syria has chemical and biological weapons programs similar to those previously found in Iraq, currently in operation. Recently, Jerusalem accused Damascus of housing a number of secret weapons which the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein moved out of the country in advance of the return of UN arms inspectors last December. Syria has strongly denied the Israeli charges