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Syria Rebuffs U.S. Plea for Border Caution

December 19, 1985|Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria — The government of President Hafez Assad on Wednesday rejected a U.S. plea to remove recently deployed anti-aircraft missiles along its border with Lebanon and threatened to retaliate against "Israeli provocations."

"Syria will allow no one to discuss with her issues related to her right of exercising her sovereignty over her territory," a broadcast on the state radio said. "The Middle East is not an American state, nor is the Mediterranean an American lake."

The Syrian position came in a commentary responding to a statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Israel might be forced to react if Syria took steps beyond its latest missile deployment.

Appeal to Israel, Too

Shamir confirmed that the United States has urged both Israel and Syria not to do anything to increase tension.

"This is the state of affairs at the moment," the foreign minister said in remarks distributed by government press spokesmen in Jerusalem. "We hope that Syria will not take additional steps that will force us to react."

On Wednesday, the political commentator of Damascus radio registered this swift reaction: "Mr. Shamir should also take into consideration that others also know how to answer Israeli provocations. Let everyone be responsible for his actions."

The Syrians moved up Soviet-supplied high-altitude SAM-2 missile batteries along their border with Lebanon after a Nov. 19 dogfight in which Israeli fighters shot down two Syrian MIG-23s.

Israel warned that the deployment threatened Israeli air reconnaissance patrols over the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon. Syria contended that it has the "right to deploy on its territory any kind of weapons necessary for its self-defense."

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