AFP: The White House on Wednesday denounced the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanese militia Hezbollah and said it held Syria and Iran responsible for the attack.
ROSTOCK, Germany, July 12, 2006 (AFP) – The White House on Wednesday denounced the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanese militia Hezbollah and said it held Syria and Iran responsible for the attack.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers. We also hold Syria and Iran, which directly support Hezbollah, responsible for this attack and for the ensuing violence,” said national security spokesman Frederick Jones.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US diplomats in the region have been in “direct contact” with officials there, Jones said as US President George W. Bush headed here for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The United States, United Nations, Russia, Britain, Japan and the European Union condemned the kidnappings and Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israel, saying they had dangerously escalated Middle East tensions.
“We condemn in the strongest terms Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel and the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers. We know that Hezbollah also launched unprovoked rocket attacks on civilian targets in Israel as part of this offensive,” said Jones.
“This is a terrorist attack, and it is clearly timed to exacerbate already high tensions in the region and sow further violence,” the spokesman said.
“Hezbollah terrorism is not in Lebanon’s interest,” said Jones, adding that the group’s efforts to arm itself and carry out attacks from Lebanon are “a direct threat to the security of the Lebanese people, and the sovereignty of the Lebanese government.”
Israeli ground forces, supported by warplanes, entered southern Lebanon in the biggest push since a 2000 pullout to retrieve the two soldiers snatched by Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran.