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Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali on Tuesday claimed that “the largest amount of smuggled arms is coming from a brotherly country, Lebanon.”

“Smuggling arms and armed men, hosting deserters and mercenaries does not reflect a policy of disassociation,” Ali told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station.

He also said that “nourishing terrorist acts by smuggling arms and providing help to the ‘so-called Free Syrian Army’ harms the ties between Lebanon and Syria.”

Ali’s comments come after Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who has come under harsh criticism by March 14 politicians over his position at the Arab League’s meetings on Damascus, defended Monday Lebanon’s policy to dissociate itself from the 10-month unrest in Syria.“The dissociation policy is not a Lebanese innovation and does not mean a no-stance, but not forcing Lebanon to comply with the adopted position,” Mansour told a delegation from the Journalists’ Union.

“Lebanon is a special case. It does not support or oppose any decision taken by the Arab League. Lebanon’s special relations with Syria make us take the decision which is good for Lebanon’s interest in the first place, and for the special relations between Lebanon and Syria by virtue of the geographical, historical, family, commercial and economic situation. Whether we like it or not, we have to take all these matters into consideration,” he said.

“Lebanon’s system is sectarian while Syria’s is secular. In Syria, there is a one-party system, while in Lebanon there is a plurality of parties. In Syria, there is a presidential system, while in Lebanon there is a parliamentary system,” Mansour said, adding: “Therefore, there is a difference in the ruling systems. But our common denominator is security and stability. Here lies our supreme interest regardless of those who do not want relations with Syria for personal reasons.

“Whether we like it or not, we are affected by what is happening around us. If we close our border with Syria, who will lose? We will in the first place. Ninety percent of our external trade to the Gulf is exported by land via the Syrian gate,” Mansour added.

The Syrian regime blames “terrorist gangs ” for the popular unrest that has swept the country since mid-March, with the United Nations estimating that at least 5,400 people have been killed since the uprising started .

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