Bush accuses Syria on Lebanon

President Bush says today he has receieved reports of covert Syrian interference in Lebanon, and the White House charged that it had information that Damascus had drawn up an assassination hit list targeting Lebanese political leaders. “Obviously we’re going to follow up on these troubling reports, and we expect the Syrian government to follow up on these troubling reports,” Bush told reporters. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said afterward that Washington had received information about a “Syrian hit list targeting key Lebanese public figures of various political and religious persuasions, for assassination.”

Syrian Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban, who often speaks for the government, countered that Syria had completely withdrawn from Lebanon and denied that Damascus had drawn up an assassination hit list in Lebanon. “Syria never had a history of hit lists … I think they should look somewhere else unless they want to use this as a pretext to target Syria without finding any proof,” she said. “The killings in Lebanon are as much dangerous for Syria than they are for Lebanon and therefore it is impossible for Syria to contemplate such a thing.”

McClellan said Washington’s allegations were based on intelligence “that we have seen.” (Reuters, June 10)

See our last posts on Lebanon and Syria.