Syrian dailies, all of them government controlled, have unanimously labelled the American move as part of a campaign by Washington's main regional ally, Israel.

"The American decision is the result of an Israeli campaign against Syria which echoed with the hawks in the American administration," said al-Thawra daily.

"All the decisions of these (US) leaders are taken with a view to serving Israel, its policies and its aggressive aims," it said.

Sanctions

On Wednesday, the House International Relations Committee voted in favour of diplomatic and economic sanctions, accusing Syria of supporting "terrorism" and developing weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration also said it would no longer oppose legislation allowing the sanctions resolution, which means it has a strong chance of being passed by the full House of Representatives next week.

The motion came in the wake of an airstrike last Sunday by Israel on what it said was a training camp for Palestinian "terrorists" outside Damascus.

Provocation

The Bush administration looks
set to impose sanctions on Syria

Al-Thawra added the US move looked like a "pressure tactic to modify the Syrian position of principle over the (American) occupation of Iraq and the explosive situation in the (Israeli) occupied territories" of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The paper of the ruling Baath party also called the move a "provocation" which flew in the face of international rules and relations.

It recalled that cooperation between the two countries in cracking down al-Qaida had recently led the White House to express its satisfaction with anti-terrorism efforts by Damascus.

The Tishrin daily took a more diplomatic approach, saying Syria "remains bound by international law" and was "open to an objective, constructive and balanced dialogue with all the world's countries".

Arab rights

But it warned that its "national principle, its rights and the interests of its people came first".  

There was a similar reaction in Beirut, which is dominated politically and militarily by Damascus.

The resolution "is part of a long series of (US) positions which profit Israel and whose goal is to eliminate Arab rights," the pro-Syrian Al-Sharq paper said.