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ME quartet asks Syria to expel Islamic Jihad

October 29, 2005

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WASHINGTON, Oct 28: The United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union called on Friday for Syria to immediately expel the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad from its territory.

“The quartet urges the Syrian government to take immediate action to close the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and to prevent the use of its territory by armed groups engaged in terrorist acts,” said a statement by the international group read by US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The statement by the international quartet, which is working toward Middle East peace, came two days after a deadly attack in northern Israel claimed by Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad said the bombing was a response to the killing of two of its militants by Israeli troops in the northern West Bank over the weekend, one of whom was the overall commander of the Al Quds Brigades in the West Bank.

On Thursday three Israeli missiles slammed into a car in the northern Gaza Strip, killing two activists from Jihad’s armed wing, the Al Quds Brigades, and six civilians who were just leaving a local mosque.

The quartet’s text was adopted after a half-hour teleconference between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the State Department spokesman said.

FINISHING TOUCHES: The UN Security Council on Friday mulled an amended Franco-US draft resolution demanding full cooperation from Damascus with the probe into the murder of Lebanon’s ex-premier, with some members still opposing any mention of sanctions.

Experts met to fine-tune the revised resolution, which still threatened Damascus with economic and diplomatic sanctions if it does not fully cooperate with the probe.

But the amended text toned down some of the language and certain punitive measures.

US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said that members of the 15-member council would work through the weekend if needed to finalize a draft that could be put to a vote at a ministerial session tentatively scheduled for Monday. A diplomat said 10 ministers were expected to attend the session.—AFP