US, Israel Blame Syria for Inciting Border Clashes

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States has joined Israel in blaming Syria for inciting the lethal confrontations that occurred Sunday along the Israeli-Syrian border.

Syrian state media say 23 people were killed and more than 325 wounded when Israeli troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian protesters who were attempting to breach the frontier. The Israeli military has termed the death toll “exaggerated.” It counted 10 people killed, and said none of the deaths was caused by Israeli fire.

A State Department spokesman said Syria was seeking to divert attention from its internal conflict, a charge leveled earlier by Israeli officials. The spokesman said Israel “like any sovereign nation” has the right to defend itself.

Israeli soldiers and dozens of protesters remained Monday on opposite sides of the border, which at latest report was said to be quiet.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his “deep concern” about the situation and said attempts are being made to determine exactly what happened.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said numerous warnings were issued and that in the end Israeli forces shot at the feet of the approaching protesters.

The protests were marking the 44th anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria It also seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in just six days of fighting.

Israel returned Sinai to Egypt under a 1979 peace deal, and withdrew from Gaza in 2005.