US sources spread fabrications on Israel raid-Syria

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 (Reuters) Syria accused unspecified sources in the United States today of spreading ''fabricated news'' about an Israeli air raid on Syria last month, but shed no further light on what happened.

Some US officials have linked the raid to apparent Israeli suspicions of secret nuclear cooperation between Damascus and North Korea. Syria has not said what the raid was targeting, while the Israeli government has declined comment.

Describing the Sept 6 raid as ''the latest act of Israeli aggression against Syria,'' Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told the UN General Assembly it was ''proof of Israel's desire to escalate tension.'' ''Some sources in the United States have spread rumors and fabricated news in order to justify this act of aggression,'' Moualem said. ''By distorting the facts they have become Israel's accomplices.'' Damascus has previously said the raid hit an empty area, causing no casualties, after air defense systems confronted the aircraft.

''The failure of the international community, including the (UN) Security Council, to condemn this act of aggression would encourage Israel to persist in this hostile pursuit, and lead to an exacerbation of tensions in the region,'' Moualem said.

''RANDOM ALLEGATIONS'' In letters on Sept 11 to the Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Syria complained of the Israeli raid but did not request any specific UN action.

Diplomats in Damascus say at least four Israeli warplanes crossed deep into Syria in the operation. They suggest the intended target may have involved missiles supplied by North Korea but played down reports of a nuclear link.

Syria and Israel are formally at war. Peace talks between them collapsed in 2000 over the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights, a plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria in 1967.

In his speech to the General Assembly, part of the annual UN gathering of world leaders, Moualem also dismissed US charges that Syria allows guerrillas to travel through its territory to neighboring Iraq to fight U.S. forces there.

''Random allegations that combatants are infiltrating into Iraq through the Syrian-Iraqi borders cannot be farther from the truth,'' he said. ''The purpose of these unfounded accusations is assigning the responsibility for the failure of the occupying power to achieve security and stability in Iraq to others.'' In a reference to the United States, Moualem accused ''the occupying power'' of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military operations in Iraq while failing to give any resources to Syria to help it accommodate 1.6 million Iraqi refugees.

Reuters MP VP0105

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