U.S. DEBATING MILITARY STRIKE ON SYRIA
OCT 10 2005
The United States recently debated launching military strikes inside Syria against camps used by insurgents operating in neighboring Iraq, a US magazine reported.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully opposed the idea at a meeting of senior American officials held on October 1, Newsweek reported, citing unnamed US government sources.
Rice reportedly argued that diplomatic isolation was a more effective approach, with a UN report pending that may blame Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri.
The United States has accused Damascus of allowing insurgents to move arms and fighters across the Syrian border into Iraq and of destabilizing the region.
US troops in Iraq have been waging an offensive in recent weeks against insurgents in western towns near the Syrian border.
The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said last month that "our patience is running out" with Syria.
The same article also reported that Syria had ended all security and intelligence cooperation with the United States several months ago after growing frustrated with persistent public criticism from Washington.
Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, told Newsweek that his government continued to detain Islamic extremists and remained willing to resume cooperation if the public bashing stopped.
"We are willing to re engage the moment you want but one condition," the magazine quotes Moustapha as saying.
"You have to acknowledge that we are helping."
Moustapha also confirmed an account from a US intelligence official that Damascus had been angered when Washington exposed one of its operatives.
While criticizing Syria in public statements, the United States had privately praised Damascus for handing over the half brother of Saddam Hussein, Sabawi Ibrahim al Hassan, earlier in the year, the magazine reported.
Moustapha said Syria could do more to assist the United States if intelligence was shared as in the past.
The magazine reported that some US intelligence officials believed Washington now was losing out on vital information. Syrian cooperation in the last few years allegedly had helped avert two possible attacks against US targets, including a Navy base in Bahrain.
One unnamed intelligence official told the magazine that US pressure on the Syrian leadership could prove counter productive and that Washington may be "radicalizing the country."
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