Syria arrests five suspected Western spies
26 Feb 2012 14:34
Islam Times - Five foreign nationals suspected of involvement in espionage activities in Syria have reportedly been arrested in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs.
According to reports three Frenchmen, a Briton and an American who have illegally entered the country as journalists have been detained in Homs.
Homs has been the scene of violent clashes between army troops and armed gangs in recent months as foreign agents are said to have infiltrated Syrian towns from areas in northern Lebanon controlled by Saudi-backed Salafists.
Meanwhile, Eric Chevallier the French ambassador to Syria, whom Paris withdrew from Syria two weeks earlier, returned to Damascus on Thursday to secure the release of the French suspects.
Syrian authorities have, however, not accepted the French ambassador’s request for the evacuation of the French nationals and have sent them to Damascus, where they are due to stand trial on charges of illegal entry into the country.
According to a French spokesman Paris is in discussions with its European Union partners to "reinforce sanctions," against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The arrest of the foreign nationals comes as Western countries led by the US plan military intervention in the country. The US had earlier said that it will consider military assistance to armed groups fighting the Syrian government.
Pro-Israeli US Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, have also called for arming Syrian gangs with the help of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The pro-opposition Friends of Syria conference organized by a number of Western countries and the Arab League kicked off in Tunisia on Friday to discuss Syria unrest.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds, reportedly including over 2,000 security forces.
Damascus blames ‘outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups’ for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
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