Syria denies Islamic Jihad connection

Damascus responds to Quartet call to expel terror groups from Syrian territory.

islamic jihad 298.88 (photo credit: )
islamic jihad 298.88
(photo credit: )
Syria has renounced claims that it shelters and even directs operations of the Palestinian terror organization Islamic Jihad, which carried out Wednesday's suicide bombing in Hadera which killed five and wounded dozens. A Syrian announcement on Saturday morning declared that Islamic Jihad is not active in Damascus, and that all of the offices of the organization - as well as other Palestinian terror organizations - had been closed in the Syrian capital, Israel Radio reported. In the announcement, Syria said that the orders to attack Israel had come from within the Palestinian territory and not from Damascus, and dismissed any connection between Syria and the Hadera bombing, or any other attack. According sources in the Islamic Jihad leadership, the Damascus offices of Islamic Jihad were allegedly closed two years ago, and the organization's secretary, Ramadan Salah, left Damascus three months ago for destinations unknown. Another Jihad operative, Abu Sa'a said that the organization's presence in Damascus was "natural" and denied that the Islamic Jihad leadership in Damascus issued instructions for attacks in Israel. On Friday, Syria - already under close international inspection due to the ongoing probe into the assassination of Lebanese former prime minister Rafik Hariri - came under fire from the powerful "Quartet" for supporting Palestinian terror. A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday instructed Syria to "take swift measures" to close Islamic Jihad offices "to prevent the use of its territory by armed groups becoming involved in terrorist acts." The Russians said they were speaking on behalf of the Quartet - themselves, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations - which has developed a so-called "road map" for reaching a full peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. "The Quartet encourages and resolutely supports efforts of the Palestinian Authority to adopt swift measures aimed at preventing illegal and unlawful actions by armed gangs, and also actions directed against the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.