Hamas denies presence in Iraq

Jan. 17, 2004 at 3:12 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Saturday denied as baseless U.S. reports that it had offices in Iraq.

Hamas Spokesman in Lebanon Osama Hamdan told United Press International in the capital, Beirut, that the reports were "an American attempt to show that the courageous resistance against the American occupation was not Iraqi, but a resistance from outside."

Hamdan said that reports saying Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group had offices in Iraq indicated the "American failure in determining the reality of the position that (the resistance) is the response of the Iraqi people to the occupation."

He was speaking after U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said that Washington would prevent Hamas and Hezbollah from working in Iraq after reports quoted an American-Iraqi woman as saying she saw their offices in southern Iraq.

Hamdan insisted that Hamas "struggle and presence is inside the Palestinian occupied territories to resist the Israeli occupation," adding that his group did not have a presence "in any other country that is occupied."

He also urged the State Department spokesman to "be more accurate before issuing hostile statements against the resistance representing the Lebanese and Palestinian people."

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