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5/2/04 - TERRORISM IN SYRIA - 2004-05-03

A gun battle took place in Damascus, Syria, after masked men set off a car bomb next to an empty building once used by the United Nations. Three of the terrorists were killed and a fourth is in Syrian custody.

Terrorism is nothing new to the Syrian regime, although it is usually a promoter of terrorism rather than a victim. Since 1979, Syria has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism. In its latest Patterns of Global Terrorism report, the State Department says that Syria continues to provide political and material support to terrorist groups like Hamas and permits Iran to use Damascus as a transshipment point for resupplying Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that the U.S. has called “on Syria to cut its ties with terrorist organizations, to make a clean break with those who advocate violence and the killing of innocents for political purposes”:

“As the bombings in Madrid, in Riyadh, in Casablanca, in Istanbul -- pick the spot –- have made clear, no state is immune from or no society is immune from the threat of terrorist attack. And that includes Syria.”

There must be “no compromise” in the global war against terrorism, says Mr. Ereli:

“The way to deal with this issue is to get on the right side of the issue and to dedicate yourself wholly and fully to the fight against terrorism. . . . There’s no accommodation with people who will wantonly kill innocent life to advance an extremist agenda.”

“The threat of terrorism is real,” says Mr. Ereli. “And once you come to that conclusion, there is really one reasonable response, and that is to fight the threat without reservation.”

In Syria, or anywhere else in the world.