Sharon Sets Stage to Attack Lebanon, Syria, and even Iran, in the war ahead:
PM: Syria, Hezbollah,Iran train together By Aluf Benn
[Ha'aretz, 4 Jan 2003]
The Syrian army has held joint maneuvers with Hezbollah along with units of the Iranian revolutionary guards in Lebanon. This information was conveyed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to visiting Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Sharon said the exercises were proof of the problematic cooperation on the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis.
Specter has had close contacts with Damascus over the past 20 years since the time when he participated in negotiations for the release of the American hostages in Lebanon.
Sharon said that "if he [Syrian President Bashar Assad] felt isolated in the international community because of his support for terror, and if there was a political and economic price to pay for this, perhaps his policy would change. But so long as he is allowed the benefit of the doubt, he has no reason to stop supporting terror."
To this, Specter replied that he had always told the Syrians it was unthinkable they should support the killing of innocent civilians. The Syrians believe that Israel has 7,000 armed civilians on the Golan Heights, he added.
Sharon said he was prepared to renew negotiations with Syria without prior conditions. When Specter asked if he could convey this to Assad, Sharon answered in the affirmative.
"I'd be happy to visit Damascus and I'd be happy for [Assad] to come to Jerusalem," Sharon added.