Syria refused today to give into what it termed blackmail in Israeli demands

publisher: UPI

Publishing date: 1981-05-15

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Syria refused today to give into what it termed blackmail in Israeli demands to remove its Soviet-made missiles from Lebanon and an Israeli newspaper reported the Soviets and the United States were sending aircraft carriers to the Lebanese coast.

‘The missiles are defensive weapons and we will not pull them out under pressure from Israel or anyone else for that matter,’ said Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam. ‘We will not give in to Israeli threats and blackmail.’

Khaddam, in an interview with the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat that was also printed today by the Syrian government newspaper Tishrin, blamed Israel for the threat of another Middle East war.

Washington must ‘look elsewhere for a solution,’ he said, indicating that U.S. envoy Philip Habib has failed to persuade Syria to accept a U.S. peace plan involving removal of the missiles.

Khaddam said ‘American efforts should be directed toward Israel,’ blaming the Jewish state for starting the missile crisis. The missiles were installed after Israeli jets downed two helicopters attacking the Israel-backed Christian Lebanese forces.

‘Is it logical for Israel to have the right to security and this same right to be denied to the victim of the Israeli aggression?’ Khaddam said.

The Syrian minister warned that if Israel attacks the missiles, ‘It will discover that our missiles are not toys.’ Syrian troops began stringing new communications lines around the missile batteries in Lebanon’s strategic Bekaa Valley.

 

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