Syrian top diplomat blames Israel for escalation

Syria's vice president blamed Israel for the escalating violence in Lebanon and Palestinian territories Wednesday, and Arab countries worried over possible Israeli retaliation against Syria after the capture of two Israeli soldiers by its ally, Hizbullah. Syria also is host to the top leadership of the Palestinian Hamas, whose fighters seized an Israeli soldier two weeks ago - putting Damascus at the center of blame by Israel and the United States in the crisis. Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa denied his country had a role in either abduction. "It's up to the resistance - both the Lebanese and the Palestinian - to decide what they are doing and why are they fighting," he told reporters in Damascus. But he put ultimate blame on Israel for the seizures of the soldiers, saying, "For sure, the occupation (of the Palestinian territories) is the cause provoking both Lebanese and Palestinian people, and that's why there is Lebanese and Palestinian resistance."