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Syria Presses for UN Resolution Condemning Israeli Attack - 2003-10-06


Syria is asking the U.N. Security Council for urgent passage of a resolution condemning Israel for an air strike on a suspected Palestinian militant training camp near Damascus. Israel has defended the attack, calling it an act of self-defense.

Syria's U.N. ambassador, Fayssal Mekdad, told an emergency Security Council session Israel's air raid constitutes an act of military aggression. Speaking at a rare Sunday meeting of the Council, he said the Israeli government had flouted the law to the point where many people across the globe feel Israel is above the law.

In his reply, Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, accused Syria of providing safe harbor, funding and training facilities for terrorist organizations. He called the Sunday morning air strike a "measured defensive response."

The Council heard a steady stream of ambassadors condemning the Israeli raid, some in angry terms. Secretary General Kofi Annan earlier issued a statement in which he too condemned the attack, and expressed concern at the escalating tensions. British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry called the air strike "unacceptable." The French and Pakistani ambassadors both described it as a "violation of international law."

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, in his speech, avoided condemnation. He cautioned Israel against any action that would heighten tensions. At the same time, however, he warned Syria that it is on the wrong side in the war against terrorism.

U.S. diplomats, speaking outside the Council chamber, noted that the resolution made no mention of recent Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. The most recent attack, on Saturday, killed 19 people.

The Israeli air strike is said to be the deepest into Syria in three decades.

The Security Council is expected to continue its debate Monday. But the Syrian-sponsored resolution is not likely to pass. The United States has, in the past, opposed previous anti-Israeli resolutions that did not also condemn Palestinian terrorism in equally vigorous language.

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