Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Syria moving troops

Syria is to move some of its troops in Lebanon closer to the border region:

Syria's ambassador to Washington said yesterday his country's forces in Lebanon will begin a major redeployment toward their own border this morning.

The diplomat also said Syrian and U.S. troops will partake in joint security operations along the Syrian-Iraqi border, although State Department officials contradicted that claim.

"This is official," said Imad Mustapha, Syria's ambassador to Washington, speaking by telephone from the Syrian capital. "Tuesday morning there will be a major redeployment of Syrian forces in Lebanon toward the border."

However, the State Department denies any such joint patrols of the Iraq/Syria border:

A senior State Department official disputed the ambassador's statement last night.

"We are looking for Syria to take certain action to protect the border. That action has not been taken yet. We'll be working to improve Syria's performance," the official said. "At this point, that does not include joint actions with American troops."

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