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Syria Denies U.S. Allegations Over Troops | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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DAMASCUS, Syria, AP -An official Syrian newspaper on Saturday dismissed as &#34lies&#34 American allegations that Damascus still maintained troops or intelligence officials in Lebanon.

Syria claims all its forces quit Lebanon in April in line with a U.N. resolution after some three decades as the dominant political and military force in its tiny neighbor.

&#34We dare any country or side to come up with evidence that we still have forces or intelligence (agents) in Lebanon,&#34 the Tishrin newspaper said in an editorial. &#34Is it Syria”s responsibility to maintain security in Lebanon and Iraq?&#34

U.S. officials said Thursday that Washington was certain that Syrian military intelligence operatives remain in Lebanon in defiance of international demands to withdraw all forces and agents.

Anti-Syrian opposition politicians also have claimed that intelligence agents remain.

Meanwhile, Lebanon”s pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud deflected calls for his resignation Saturday by claiming that Israel and Muslim extremists benefited most from the string of killings of anti-Syrian figures by sowing &#34chaos and fear in Arab societies.&#34

He made the comments during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhoaxing, according to a statement from his office.

Lahoud has been under pressure to step down since the first high-profile assassination of an opponent of Syria — former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri — in a bomb blast on Feb. 14. Since then two other vocal critics of Damascus were killed in similar circumstances, by bombs placed under their car seats.

Anti-Syrian forces blamed Damascus and their Lebanese allies for the attacks, allegations both parties have steadfastly denied.

Hariri”s assassination sparked a wave of anti-Syrian demonstrations that propelled Syria into ending its 29-year military presence in Lebanon and fueled the anti-Syrian coalition”s victory in parliamentary elections that were completed on June 19.

A U.N. team is in Lebanon investigating Hariri”s killing.