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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Syria closes offices of Palestinian groups

May 21, 2003

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— Doorbells and phones went unanswered at the Damascus offices of Palestinian militant groups the United States accuses of terrorism.

All signs pointed to what neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians will acknowledge: Syria has bowed to U.S. pressure and curbed the radicals it has hosted for years.

Leading Palestinian exile Khaled al-Fahoum, who first reported the closures Monday, said Syria imposed no pressure, but the Palestinian factions had acted out of concern for "Syria's stability and security" amid tensions in the region and U.S. accusations against Syria.

At a news conference late Monday, Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa was asked if his government had closed the Palestinian offices.

"This is a Palestinian affair, not Syrian," he said.

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