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Monday, March  31, 2003  10:41:25 p.m

Syria backs Iraqi people against invaders

DAMASCUS - Syria on Monday reiterated its support for Iraq and its people against what it said was an "illegitimate" U.S.-led invasion, a day after Washington urged Damascus to stop supporting the Iraqi government.

Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Damascus on Sunday it was facing a critical choice and urged it to abandon its support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, accused by Washington of harboring weapons of mass destruction.

"Syria chose to be with the international official and popular consensus that says: 'No to the aggression against Iraq; No to the bombing of cities and the killing of people'," a statement from the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.

"Syria also chose to side with the brotherly Iraqi people who are facing an illegitimate and unjustifiable invasion," the statement said.

The statement said Powell's remarks proved that what "the U.S. administration is doing in the region served Israel, its interests and plans and satisfied [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon."

The Iraqi people were being subjected to "all sorts of crimes against humanity," the statement said, referring to the U.S.-led war that began on March 20.

Both Iran and Syria came under fire from Washington on Friday for their alleged involvement in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters the United States would hold Syria accountable for reported shipments of materiel including night vision goggles to Iraq, calling them "hostile acts."

Rumsfeld also said armed Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim forces supported by Iran were inside Iraq and would be considered combatants if they interfered with U.S. or British forces.

Syria and Iran both dismissed Rumsfeld's warnings.

A joint venture of TODAY newspaper and ABS-CBN Interactive

Addressing stuff floating out there
There is stuff floating around in the swimming pool of public opinion that ought be in a toilet instead. That stuff has gotta be addressed before it is mistaken for a bar of Baby Ruth, with which it bears an uncanny resemblance, and someone takes a bite of it. One of them is what to call it. Only ABS-CBN has had the mental honesty to call this war as it can only be seen: an “Attack on Iraq.”

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