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Updated: June 1, 2010 17:44 IST

Syria, Lebanon say flotilla attack can lead to war

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Turkish women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in front of the U.N. house in Beirut on Monday, after Israeli commandos stormed six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian aid on a mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip. Photo: AP.
Turkish women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in front of the U.N. house in Beirut on Monday, after Israeli commandos stormed six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian aid on a mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip. Photo: AP.

Syrian President Bashar al—Assad and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Monday that Israel’s attack on a flotilla of aid bound for Gaza threatens to ignite a war in the region.

Syria and Lebanon “condemn the heinous crime committed by Israel through the brutal attacks on unarmed civilians on board the Freedom Flotilla,” both leaders said in a joint statement, after a pre— planned meeting in Damascus.

They have warned that Israel’s “violations of basic humanitarian norms and international laws threatens to plunge the Middle East into a war which will not only affect the region.” Israel’s navy on Monday stormed the flotilla, made up of six boats carrying some 700 pro—Palestinian activists and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip. At least 10 died as a result of the raid.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Lebanese, Palestinians and followers of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, demonstrated in front the UN headquarters in Beirut.

“This is a crime against humanity,” read one banner carried by the protestors, who chanted anti—Israel slogans. They handed a letter of condemnation of the event to UN spokesman in Beirut, Bahaa al Kossi.

A ‘crazy move’

Earlier, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was “dangerous” and a “crazy move,” which would inflame the region.

The premier called on the international community to take action and said Lebanon was in contact with a number of countries to coordinate responses to the incident.

Reports in Beirut said the head of the Lebanese mission to the “Freedom Flotilla” Hani Suleiman, had been wounded in the attack.

Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah described the attack as a “premeditated crime against humanity by the Israelis.” At their meeting, al—Assad and Hariri also “demanded the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Security Council and the international community to act immediately” and put an end to Israel’s actions.

The two officials also discussed the outcome of Mr. Hariri’s recent trip to Washington and his talks with US President Barack Obama as well as his meeting with UN Secretary—General Ban Ki—moon in New York last week.

A source in the Lebanese government had said earlier that discussing threats by some Israeli cabinet ministers over comments by Mr. Hariri that Arabs have the right to use all means to remain on lands occupied by Israel was on their agenda.

On Saturday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Lebanese government and its prime minister will pay a heavy price in case of a new war with Hezbollah.

According to a source close to the premier, Mr. Hariri’s trip to Damascus comes as part of an Arab tour that is to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

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