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Syria Won’t Expel Attaches After All

November 29, 1986

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ An informed source said today that Syria will not expel any West German military attaches along with the three West German diplomats ordered out.

On Friday, the government said it was giving three West German diplomats a week to leave the country and would expel as many military attaches as needed to reduce the size of West Germany’s attache staff to that of the Syrian military attache staff in Bonn.

The action was in retaliation for West Germany’s order Thursday that three Syrian diplomats and two military attaches leave the country because of their government’s alleged involvement in terrorism. That left just two Syrian military attaches in Bonn.

An informed Syrian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there already were only two West German attaches in Damascus, and therefore none would be expelled.

The source identified the West German diplomats ordered out as Vice Consul Achim Gaier, Friedrich Roehrs, second secretary for cultural and press affairs, and Heinz Wilhelm, second secretary for political affairs.

In Bonn, the West German Foreign Ministry confirmed the names.

Syria also said Friday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Bonn. West Germany has said it will not immediately replace its ambassador to Damascus, who just ended his tour of duty.

The West German measures were triggered when a West Berlin court convicted two Palestinians on Wednesday of bombing the German-Arab Friendship Society last March, injuring nine people. In pre-trial statements, the Palestinians said they got the explosives and other aid from the Syrian Embassy in Communist East Berlin.

Syria has denied involvement in the bombing.

On Oct. 24, Britain severed diplomatic ties to Damascus after a court convicted a Jordanian man of trying to plant a bomb on an Israeli jetliner at Heathrow Airport in April. Britain said it had conclusive evidence Syria was behind the plot, but Syria denied the charge.

The United States and the Common Market later imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions against Syria.

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