Israel, US blamed for Damascus attack

Syria's media: Targeting Syria still official policy of US, Tel Aviv leaders.

weapons 298, syria terro (photo credit: AP)
weapons 298, syria terro
(photo credit: AP)
Syria's state-run media on Saturday implicitly blamed Friday's terror attack in Damascus on the United States, Israel and their supporters in the region. The accusation came after security forces fought Islamic militants near the Defense Ministry in a gunbattle that left four militants and a police officer dead, the government said. Six insurgents, including two who were wounded, were captured and two policemen were also injured. "What happened in the heart of Damascus is a practical translation of the American-Israeli threats. Targeting Syria is still an official policy of the US administration, the Tel Aviv leaders and some weak-willed people who have sold themselves for evil in exchange of a handful of dollars," state-run Tishrin daily said in an editorial. The United States blame Syria for backing groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as Hizbullah. America also accused Syria of allowing foreign fighters to cross into Iraq, an accusation the Arab state denies. Syria's official news agency, SANA, said all 10 militants in Friday's attack were members of a "takfiri" group. "Takfiri" refers to Sunni Muslim extremists who declare that non-radical Muslims are infidels. SANA said police seized 10 US-made automatic rifles, along with several homemade bombs. It did not specify the weapons' brand, but said they had been supplied by a "neighboring country to carry out sabotage attacks against vital targets and national interests." The country was not named, but Syria has alleged in the past that weapons were coming into the country from Lebanon, with whom relations have been increasingly strained since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last year and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian troops. Tishrin said it was the first time Syria seized US-made weapons, and hinted the rifles had been brought in as an implicit US and Israeli threat to the country, "As if it was meant to send an urgent message to the leadership and the people of Syria to realize the dangers of ... confronting projects that are hostile to Syria and the Arab nation." Religious leaders also condemned Friday's attack. A top Syrian Muslim cleric, Sheik Ahmed Hassoun said that "he who stands against Syria's security is standing in the other trench; antagonizing religion, people, honor, homeland and the whole nation." Security forces have had occasional shootouts with Islamic militants in the Syrian capital before. In previous clashes, the Islamic militants tended to belong to the "Jund al-Sham," or Soldiers of Syria, which was formed in Afghanistan by Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian militants with links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq. In March, Syrian security forces killed a top Jund al-Sham militant, Mohammed Ali Nasif, and his bodyguard in a clash northwest of Damascus.