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Syria accuses U.N. chief of encouraging ‘terrorists’
Question of the Day
BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian state-run newspaper accused U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday of encouraging “terrorist” rebel attacks by focusing his criticism on the government, while other government media reported that the navy foiled an infiltration attempt by gunmen who tried to land on the Syrian coast in rubber boats.
The editorial in Tishrin daily came a day after Ban said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s continued crackdown on protests has reached an “intolerable stage.” It also followed what the state media said was a suicide attack in Damascus that left 10 dead.
The Syrian comments were the harshest against the U.N. since a plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan proposed an April 12 cease-fire to be followed by peace talks. Since that date, the U.N. has said the regime has broken many of its truce promises, such as withdrawing forces from towns and cities. Rebel fighters have also kept up attacks on Syrian security forces.
Annan’s plan aims to end the country’s 13-month crisis that has so far killed more than 9,000 people according to the U.N..
Tishrin said Ban has avoided discussing rebel violence in favor of “outrageous” attacks on the Syrian government. “The continued disregard of the international community and its cover for armed groups’ crimes and terrorist acts … is considered as direct participation in facilitating and carrying out the terrorism to which Syria is subjected,” the editorial said.
“Such a stance seemingly encourages those groups to go on committing more crimes and terrorist acts,” Tishrin said.
The Syrian capital was hit by four explosions Friday that left at least 11 people dead and dozens wounded. Assad’s government blamed the blasts on “terrorists,” the term the government uses to describe opposition forces that it says are carrying out a foreign conspiracy.
On Saturday, the country’s state-run news agency said military units stationed off the Mediterranean foiled an infiltration attempt by “armed groups” from the sea in the early hours of the day. SANA said the navy forced the boats to flee, but a Syrian service member was killed and several others wounded.
Saturday’s attempt was the first reported rebel infiltration from the sea. Syrian authorities have said in the past that they clashed with infiltrators trying to cross from neighboring Lebanon or Turkey.
In Lebanon, military prosecutor Saqr Saqr told the Associated Press that the army confiscated weapons that were found aboard a ship off the Lebanese coast. Saqr added that an investigation is under way, adding that the 11 crew members are being questioned by the Lebanese military police.
On Friday’s Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said Lebanese authorities intercepted a ship off the coast near the northern city of Tripoli called “Lutfallah II” suspected of carrying the weapons.
The ship was coming from Libya, via Egypt and then to the port of Tripoli apparently on its way to Syria, NNA said.
The ship was taken to the port of Selaata, north of Beirut, where three containers where the weapons were believed to be hidden were seen being placed on Lebanese army flatbed trucks and taken away Saturday morning.
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