The official Al-Baath newspaper has condemned President Bush’s 24 June speech, which called on Syria to ‘choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organisations’. The paper said the speech proved the US president’s ‘deep loyalty to the policies of [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’.

Damascus has been attempting to shore up political support in the region. Military and economic delegations were dispatched to Iraq and Turkey in late June. Two military co-operation agreements signed in Ankara will enable Turkey and Syria to exchange military students and conduct joint military exercises.