US allegations

 

Bush has sought to isolate Syria diplomatically. He accuses Damascus of sponsoring terrorism, not doing enough to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq and doing little to rein in Hamas and Hezbollah fighters opposed to Israel.

   

Damascus, which withdrew its forces from Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year military presence, has denied the accusations.

 

"This is a tool the United States has to demonstrate to Syria our desire for them to stop meddling in Lebanon," Gordon Johndroe, White House national security council spokesman, told reporters about the travel ban.

   

He said the decision had been in the works for a while and was prompted by events such as the assassination this month of Lebanese legislator Walid Eido, a member in the majority anti-Syrian parliamentary bloc.

   

Others listed as subject to the travel ban included Rustum Ghazali, identified as another top Syrian intelligence official, plus five former Lebanese cabinet ministers and a former member of parliament.