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Syria Criticizes US for Deploying Warships off Lebanese Coast


Syria has accused the United States of obstructing a solution to Lebanon's political crisis by deploying warships off the Lebanese coast.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday in Damascus that Lebanese betting on the U.S. "flexing its muscle" will be disappointed. He said Washington cannot impose the solution it wants to Lebanon's political stalemate.

U.S. officials say they are sending three warships as a show of American support for stability in the region and to reflect concern about the situation in Lebanon. Washington has repeatedly accused Syria of meddling in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said his government has not asked for any naval support.

Lebanon's parliament has been deadlocked since November over its inability to elect a new president.

Voting was delayed again this week until March 11 - the 15th postponement since the crisis began.

Sources in the region say Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens in Lebanon to leave the country due to the growing political unrest in Lebanon.

U.S. officials declined to say whether the naval show of force off the Lebanese coast is meant specifically for Syria.

One of the ship's deployed to Lebanon, the destroyer USS Cole, was heavily damaged by a terrorist attack more than seven years ago in Yemen, but has since been rebuilt.

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