Syrian minister: Hezbollah not al-Qaida

July 31, 2006 at 11:37 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 31 (UPI) -- The Syrian foreign minister says resistance movements like Hezbollah and Hamas must not be confused with terrorist organizations like al-Qaida.

"We really have only two options," Walid Moallem told the German magazine Der Spiegel. "Do we want to continue as we have in the past and have a new war every 10 years; do we want to capitulate to the extremists who are just waiting to take advantage of the situation we now have? Or do we want a wide-ranging compromise that will finally bring peace, stability and prosperity to the Middle East? Syria is for the second of these two options."

Asked what he meant by extremists, Moallem said "groups like al-Qaida and men like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, those who kill innocent people in Iraq, Europe and the United States."

"These people are no freedom fighters," he said. "These people are terrorists. You cannot compare them with Hezbollah or Hamas."

Moallem denied Syria played any part in Hezbollah's provocation of Israel. But he said that his country supports the Lebanese resistance.

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