US says Syria, Iran linked to Lebanon violence

May 10th, 2008 - 5:27 am ICT by admin  

Washington, May 10 (DPA) The US said Friday groups tied to Syria and Iran were fuelling violent clashes in Lebanon, where the Shia movement Hezbollah earlier took control of large parts of Beirut. “Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah and its allies are killing and injuring fellow citizens, undermining the legitimate authority of the Lebanese government and the institutions of the Lebanese state,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

Fifteen people have been killed and more than 60 wounded in the third day of fighting between the opposition led by Hezbollah and followers of the majority.

The conflict intensified after Hezbollah leader chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah delivered a defiant speech Thursday accusing the government of an act of war after it launched a probe into a private communications network run by Hezbollah.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Syria and Iran, who have been linked to Hezbollah in the past, have been tied to the current conflict.

“We are seeing now some evidence of those groups that are linked to Syria that are in Lebanon right now are taking a much more active role in fanning the flames of violence and those acts that are really destabilizing the political situation in Lebanon,” he told reporters.

Observers on the ground have seen evidence of groups linked to Syria inciting violence, McCormack said, but he did not provide further details about the evidence or which groups were involved.

“The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Lebanon. We condemn the use of force by illegitimate armed groups and call upon all parties to respect the rule of law,” Rice said in a statement.

President George W. Bush hopes to speak with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora about the situation during a visit to the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheik to meet with regional leaders next week, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to speak with the Lebanese government Friday, said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.

“We have confidence in the government of Lebanon. They have proven in recent years that they want to make Lebanon a safe and prosperous country. And the United States stands firmly with the Lebanese government and the people of Lebanon,” Johndroe said.

The escalation came amid high tension in Lebanon that has been rocked by the worst sectarian clashes since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

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