When is news not really news? When the whole world knows it. Yet Syria continues in denial. From AP, :
ASHKELON, Israel – A 20-year-old Palestinian recruited from a mosque in Gaza by Hamas militants told The Associated Press in a jailhouse interview Tuesday that he received weeks of military training in a Hamas camp in Syria this year.
The allegations by Osama Mattar, now in Israeli custody, mark the first time a Palestinian has spoken publicly about being trained in Syria, and contradict repeated Syrian denials.
The training base outside Damascus was far from secret and was once even inspected by Syrian intelligence agents, Mattar said.
“They know very well about the presence of Hamas,” he said. “What they may not have known about was the presence of a guy from Gaza coming to train at the training camp in Syria.”
Israel has long accused Syria of allowing Palestinian militants to train there and offered up Mattar – arrested March 2 as he tried to cross back into Gaza – as proof….
Syria has repeatedly denied accusations it allows militants to train on its territory. The Syrian government says it once allowed militants to run media offices from Damascus, but those were closed after a visit by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in May 2003.
On Oct. 5, 2003, Israel bombed what it said was an Islamic Jihad training camp in Syria after the group carried out a suicide bombing at a Haifa cafe that killed 19 Israelis. Syria said at the time the base had been long abandoned.
With relations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership warming in recent months, Israel has stepped up its accusations against Syria. Israel blamed a Feb. 25 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed five people on Islamic Jihad militants following orders from their leaders in Damascus and said it held Syria responsible.
Israeli officials say Syria continues to be a hub for Palestinian