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Syria Accuses US of ‘Scud Slander;’ Peres: We Know for a Fact

President Peres says Israel "knows for certain” Hizbullah is getting Scuds from Syria, which calls the charges “slander.” Egypt: A laughable lie.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/2/2010, 1:05 PM / Last Update: 5/2/2010, 1:54 PM

President Shimon Peres Sunday rejected Syria’s vehement denial of reports that it is arming the terrorist army with long-range Scud missiles and said, “We know it for certain.” 

Hizbullah was non-committal, and Syria and Egypt issued strong denials after several leaks, possibly from the American government, that Syria is arming Hizbullah with Scuds, similar to these that Iraq fired on Tel Aviv in the 1991 Gulf War.

President Peres (pictured below) told visiting Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen Sunday, “Israel is certain that long-range, accurate Scud missiles are being smuggled from Syria into Lebanon. Syria must stop acting one way and speaking another way. Their support for terror can no longer be hidden.”

The United States has designated Syria as a country supporting terror but has tried to “engage” Damascus. But it harshly criticized Syria after the Scud report surfaced. After several leaks, possibly from the American government, that Syria is arming Hizbullah with Scuds, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a joint press conference with visiting Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week that Hizbullah has "far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world." He stopped short of publicly stating that Scuds are part of its arsenal.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the country’s official news agency, "We warn the United States not to adopt false Israeli allegations and we say what destabilizes the security of the region is in fact beefing up Israel with all the latest U.S. weaponry and abetting Israeli allegations at our expense."

Muallem compared the accusation to what allegedly was American slander against Iraq before the war there. The United States claimed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction but had not been able to prove the allegations. Several reports have stated that Iraq sent the WMDs to Syria before the American invasion.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit, who met Lebanese officials last week and supports the Lebanese-Syrian axis, called the reports “laughable lies.”

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah did not confirm or deny the reports but maintained that his terrorist army has a “legal, moral and humanitarian right” to own weapons “to defend honorable people oppressed and threatened by the cancerous existence of the State of Israel.”

The Arab Media Watch group has charged the British media with biased coverage of the Scud smuggling claim. It said that Israeli and American statements “have been given more prominence than Syrian and Lebanese government denials.”

It also complained that 55 percent of the reports stated that Hizbullah is a threat to Israel while only 45 percent reported that Israel is a threat to Lebanon and Hizbullah.