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Rev. Jesse Jackson Returns to Syria

June 13, 2000

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Rev. Jesse Jackson returned to Damascus on Tuesday to pay his respects to President Hafez Assad, with whom he made world headlines nearly 20 years ago when the U.S. civil rights leader persuaded Syria to release a U.S. airman shot down over Lebanon.

Jackson arrived in Syria with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for the funeral of Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years until his death Saturday at age 69.

Navy Lt. Robert O. Goodman Jr. spent a month in 1983 as a prisoner of war in Syria before Jackson won his freedom. The trip to the Arab state boosted Jackson’s status, helping him become a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984.

Goodman was a navigator in a two-seat Navy A-6 Intruder from the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy in the Mediterranean off the coast of Lebanon. His aircraft was shot down Dec. 4, 1983, while he and others flew a retaliatory strike against anti-aircraft positions that had fired on Navy RF-14 reconnaissance planes supporting a U.S. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

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