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US renews Syria threats over Scuds

22 April 2010 10:48

The United States has repeated its warning to Syria over an alleged transfer of ballistic missiles to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, boasting all options are on the table.

Speaking to a congressional committee on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said that Washington has alarmed Damascus officials several times since late February against sending arms to the Lebanese resistance movement.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres accused Syria earlier in the week of providing Hezbollah with Scud missiles capable of reaching a far longer range and carrying a much larger warhead than the rockets the movement had possessed earlier.

Feltman would not confirm the allegations of Syrian arms shipments to Lebanon, but said Washington would have “really, really serious concern” if Syria delivered such high-grade weapons to Hezbollah.

“If these reports turn out to be true, we’re going to have to review the full range of tools that are available to us in order to make Syria reverse what would be an incendiary, provocative action,” Feltman said. “I expect that all options are going to be on the table looking at this.”

US officials summoned Syria’s ambassador on February 26, citing intelligence that Syria was passing increasingly sophisticated ballistic weapons to Hezbollah, Feltman said, adding similar warnings were passed to Syrian diplomats on March 1, March 10 and March 19.

A Syrian diplomat was also summoned to the State Department on Tuesday, over the latest accusations made by the Israeli president.

Both Syria and Hezbollah have strongly denied the charges, saying Israel could be using the accusation as an excuse to start another war in the region.

Ahmed Salkini, a spokesman for Syrian embassy in Washington, described the accusation of missile transfers as part of a disinformation campaign by Israel, which aims at diverting the world’s attention from eviction of Palestinians, destruction of their homes, and expansion of Israeli settlements.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri also ridiculed allegations over Hezbollah’s arsenal, likening them to false US claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which Washington used as a pretext to invade the country in 2003.

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