Syrian Col. Bashar Al-Assad has stated that Israel is committing a mistake if it thinks its unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon is equivalent to peace with Syria. Although he welcomed Israel's intention to withdraw from south Lebanon, he warned Israel that its withdrawal would not hide the many problems which are still pending in the peace process, especially the Syrian demand that Israel has to return back the whole of the Syrian Golan.

 In an interview reported on 4/27/200 with the Wall Street Journal ( Interactive Edition) , the first interview by the Western mass media with him, Mr. Al-Assad said, "Syria supports a withdrawal, but within the framework of a comprehensive peace," adding that "in the absence of a treaty it will inflict problems that might provoke tensions and problems in the future."

 The Wall Street Journal added that during the interview he stressed that Damascus cannot control the Hizbollah Party because this is not "our business, rather the work of the Lebanese government." He asked, "Will Israel guarantee it will not shell villages and homes?"


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