Syrian newspaper criticizes US warship deployment in Mediterranean

The American deployment of warships off the coast of Lebanon is "unacceptable" and shows that the US did not learn from the lessons of Iraq, a state-run Syrian newspaper said Saturday. The planned deployment of three ships, announced Thursday, appeared to be aimed at making an American show of strength at a time of increasing international frustration at the volatile political deadlock in Lebanon between the US-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and the Syria and Iran-backed opposition, led by Hizbullah. State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Friday that the warships are an important sign of US commitment to security in the region. "It should provide comfort to our friends" and, for US adversaries, "a reminder that we are there." Casey said the US was not drawing a link between the warships and Syria, but added: "if the Syrians want to take a message from it, happy to have them do so if what that means is it gets them out of the business of subverting democracy and the will of the Lebanese people."