Hizbollah, Hamas reject Powell’s demands
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hizbollah guerrillas said on Sunday they were confident Lebanon and Syria would not bow to US demands to rein them in and vowed to keep up armed resistance against Israel.
The militant Palestinian group Hamas, whose Damascus office Washington demands Syria close to get in line with US plans for the Middle East after the Iraq war, also shrugged off US pressure and said its fight with Israel would continue. The demands came from US Secretary of State Colin Powell — in Lebanon and Syria on Saturday on his first visit to the region since US-led troops ousted Saddam Hussein — who renewed a US call to put Lebanonon’s army on the border with Israel, in place of Hizbollah fighters.
Hamas denial: But a senior official of Hamas, speaking from Lebanon, denied that anything had changed for the group in Syria, where it maintains offices the Syrian government has defended as strictly limited to media activity.
“I haven’t been informed of any such thing,” Hamas Lebanon head Usama Hamdan told Reuters, when asked whether the group’s offices in the Syrian capital had been closed. “The Americans know well that our presence is part of the Palestinian presence in Syria and Lebanon and that it’s not voluntary. It is forced, because of the occupation of our land and the expulsion of Palestinians (at the creation of Israel),” he said.
Hizbollah guerrillas fired for the fifth time in a week on Israeli planes, which violated Lebanese airspace on Sunday, the fundamentalist group said in a statement.
Hizbollah said they fired on the ‘enemy planes’ flying over the eastern sector of Lebanon’s border with Israel. Hizbollah anti-aircraft batteries ranged along the border have never hit any Israeli planes, but force them to fly higher.
Incidents of Israeli planes flying over Lebanon have decreased since a period of intense aerial activity in the area at the start of April following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.
But the incursions continue despite calls from the United Nations for Israel to end its violations of Lebanese airspace. —Agencies