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Syrian FM Accuses US of 'Slander Campaign'

Syria's foreign minister says the United States is conducting a "slander campaign" by alleging its weapons transfers could destabilize the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday that the biggest threat to the region is the transfer of U.S.-made weapons to Israel.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Syrian transfers of weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia posed a serious threat to Israel and could destabilize the region.

Al-Moallem compared the accusation to what he described as the U.S. campaign of slander leading up to the war in Iraq. Before the war, the U.S. claimed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but those claims were never verified.

Iran has also responded to the U.S. allegations about Syria, promising Friday to back Syria against any threats.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier this week that Hezbollah may have up to 45,000 rockets, with some capable of hitting targets across Israel.

The Obama administration has said it wants to improve relations with Syria despite the concerns.

Officials have said the U.S. intends to send an ambassador to Syria after a five-year absence.

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