Sun, Oct 30, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Syria urged to oust terror group

TERRORIST ACTS A few days after a suicide attack in Israel, the US, the UN, the EU and Russia demanded that Damascus expel the group Islamic Jihad from its territory

AFP , WASHINGTON AND UNITED NATIONS

A Lebanese supporter of the Hezbollah guerilla group, right, picks out a flag from another supporter, holding Palestinian and Lebanese flags, during the annual rally to mark Al-Quds Day, Jerusalem Day, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

The US, Russia, the UN and the EU called on Friday for Syria to immediately expel the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad from its territory.

"The quartet urges the Syrian government to take immediate action to close the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and to prevent the use of its territory by armed groups engaged in terrorist acts," said a statement by the international group read by US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The statement by the quartet, which is working toward Middle East peace, came two days after a suicide bombing that killed five people in northern Israel. The attack was claimed by Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad said the bombing was a response to the killing of two of its militants by Israeli troops in the northern West Bank over the weekend, one of whom was the overall commander of the Al-Quds Brigades in the West Bank.

In escalating violence, Israel pressed on Friday with a deadly air campaign in the Gaza Strip, killing one Palestinian militant, after vowing an all-out offensive following the deadly suicide bombing.

Meanwhile, a revised Franco-US draft resolution demanding full cooperation from Damascus with the probe into the murder of Lebanon's ex-premier is likely to be readied for a vote by the UN Security Council tomorrow, diplomats said on Friday.

The US and France said they had made good progress in securing broad support for the text, which is co-sponsored by Britain.

Despite lingering opposition from some members to the mention of sanctions against the Syrian state specifically, the co-sponsors said they were confident the draft would be approved by most Security Council foreign ministers when they gather at a special session tomorrow.

The 15 council members huddled on Friday to fine-tune the revised text of the draft resolution, which still threatens Syria with economic and diplomatic sanctions if it does not fully cooperate with the probe into the slaying of Lebanese former premier Rafiq Hariri last February.

The proposed resolution follows the release of a report last week by the UN chief investigator, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, which concluded that senior Syrian security officials organized the assassination of Hariri in Beirut with the help of Lebanese security allies.

Friday's amended text toned down some of the language and certain punitive measures, the implementation of which would now be overseen by a special committee.

In related news, the Hezbollah group staged a massive military parade in southern Beirut on Friday as thousands of its guerillas marched in a show of force to counter international calls for the disarmament of Lebanese militias. The groups' fiery leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, also backed Syria following a UN investigation that ties Lebanon's neighbor to Hariri's assassination.

As tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters cheered and applauded, more than 6,000 guerrillas in black, olive and green military uniforms and fatigues marched in formation through Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold. None were seen to be carrying weapons.

The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran, holds the parade every year to mark Jerusalem Day -- which calls for the return of the city to Arabs.

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