Syria-Lebanon tensions rise

Tensions have risen between Syria and Lebanon, with Damascus saying it had discovered weapons on the border besides demanding compensation for anti-Syrian violence, reports said.

    Hundreds of trucks have clogged the Syria-Lebanon border

    Fuelling a growing dispute over trade, Syria's Al-Baath newspaper reported that authorities were stepping up border inspections after weapons and people were discovered crossing the border illegally.

     

    It gave no further details.

     

    Hundreds of trucks have clogged the main Syria-Lebanon border in recent days after Damascus reinforced security controls and said it was modernising the border crossings.

     

    Some Lebanese think the moves are a reaction to the departure of Syrian troops from its smaller neighbour in April after a near 30-year presence.

     

    The Baath party newspaper rejected such claims as a "pretext to increase international pressure" on Damascus, the major power broker in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.


    Compensation
     

    "Syria is waiting for the formation of a new Lebanese government to begin negotiations over compensation to Syrian workers who were attacked"


    Diala Haje-Aref,
    Syrian Minister

    Meanwhile, the official Syrian daily Ath-Thawra said Damascus was to demand compensation for Syrian workers targeted in Lebanon following the February assassination of ex-prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

     

    "Syria is waiting for the formation of a new Lebanese government to begin negotiations over compensation to Syrian workers who were attacked," Labour and Social Affairs Minister Diala Haje-Aref told the newspaper.

    Syria is entitled to such damages "because some died and some were harmed" and compensation "must be agreed to (by Lebanon) as a part of diplomatic relations between the countries," he said.

     

    Syria alleges that an unspecified number of the 300,000-strong Syrian work force in Lebanon was attacked and forced to flee after al-Hariri, a five-time premier, and 19 other people were killed in a massive 14 February explosion on the Beirut seafront.


    Political turmoil
     

    The murder threw Lebanon into political turmoil and heightened international pressure that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops.
     

    Amr Moussa has called for political
    "entente" between the two nations

    Opposition figures in Lebanon accused elements within the Syrian government of being behind the al-Hariri assassination and the killings of an anti-Damascus politician and journalist last month, something Syria denies.

     

    Lebanese prime minister-designate Fuad Siniora announced on Tuesday the formation of a government following parliamentary elections last month.

    Siniora also said he had asked for help in resolving the crisis in confidence with Syria from Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who has called for political "entente" between the two.

    SOURCE: AFP


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