U.S. accuses Syria of inciting Israel border clashes
Lebanese delegation files complaint at UN after 10 people killed in border clashes; Israel's delegation plans to follow suit, with complaints against both Syria and Lebanon.
The White House on Monday accused Syria of inciting deadly border clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, saying Damascus was trying to distract attention from its own violent crackdown on protests.
White House spokesman Jay Carney expressed regret for the loss of life in confrontations on Israel's frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday but said Israel "has the right to prevent unauthorized crossing at its borders."
"We urge maximum restraint on all sides," Carney told reporters on Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to Tennessee.
Israeli troops opened fire at three separate border locations to prevent crowds of demonstrators from crossing, killing at least 13 people.
Syrian media reports said Israeli gunfire killed two people after dozens of Palestinians infiltrated the Golan Heights from Syria, along a front line that has been largely tranquil for decades.
The White House put the onus on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the violence that broke out on the Israeli-Syrian border.
Carney said the administration was "strongly opposed to the Syrian government's involvement in inciting yesterday's protests in the Golan Heights."
"Such behavior is unacceptable and does not serve as a distraction from the Syrian government's ongoing repression of demonstrators in its own country," he said.
"It seems apparent to us that this is an effort to distract attention from the legitimate expressions of protest by the Syrian people, and from the harsh crackdown that the Syrian government has perpetrated against its own people," he added.
The Obama administration has tightened sanctions on senior Syrian officials to try to pressure Damascus to halt its crackdown on pro-democracy protests, but international human rights groups have criticized Washington for not taking stronger action.
Some Israeli officials suspect an Iranian hand in the attempted border breaches, with the help of Tehran's allies in the region: Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
The Israeli delegation to the United Nations announced Monday that it would file a complaint to the UN Security Council against Syria and Lebanon regarding the Nakba Day border clashes.
The Lebanese delegation to the UN filed a complaint against Israel over the clashes, after the Lebanese army said that 10 people were killed and 112 were wounded in Maroun a-Ras when IDF troops opened fire on demonstrators trying to cross the border.
IDF sources said, however, that both Israeli and Lebanese forces opened fire to prevent demonstrators from crossing the border.
Israeli security forces were on alert for more violence on Monday, fearing that the events of the day prior may be serve as a model for additional violence aimed toward Israel and trigger further protests for Palestinian refugees.