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Syria's Assad Criticizes Proposed US-Iraqi Security Pact


Syrian President Bashar Assad has criticized a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact, saying it will turn Iraq into a U.S. base for attacking neighboring states.

Mr. Assad reiterated Syria's accusation Sunday that U.S. forces in Iraq carried out a helicopter raid on a Syrian village near the Iraqi border last month.

He described the raid as "American aggression" and said it proves that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is a "continuous threat" to the security of Iraq's neighbors. The Syrian leader was speaking to Arab lawmakers in Damascus.

Washington has not confirmed carrying out the raid, but U.S. officials say the operation targeted a senior al-Qaida militant.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are trying to finalize a security pact that would allow U.S. forces to operate in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires at the end of December.

Mr. Assad also accused Israel of not being genuine in peace talks with its neighbors. He said Israel does not view peace as a main objective and cares only about what he called its "narrow security interests."

There was no immediate response from Israel to Mr. Assad's comments.

Israel and Syria began indirect peace talks earlier this year aimed at resolving the fate of the Golan Heights. Israel captured the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed the territory.

Syria demands that Israel must fully withdraw from the Golan in exchange for peace. Israel wants Syria to loosen its alliance with Iran and stop sheltering Palestinian militant groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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