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Syria And Lebanon

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 13 June 1945

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make concerning General Oliva Roget's allegations that Colonel Stirling and Wing-Commander Marsack were British agents who fomented disturbances in Syria.

The activities of all British representatives in Syria are under the control either of His Majesty's Minister at Damascus or, in the case of serving officers, of the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his statement of 5th June, British influence has been used throughout not to foment disturbances, but on the contrary to prevent them. I am confident that none of our representatives have acted contrary to the directives of His Majesty's Government, as alleged. So far as I am aware, no evidence whatever has been produced in support of these allegations.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that General Roget, who makes these allegations, served against us in the Syrian campaign of 1941 under General Dentz, who has since been condemned to death?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear to the French, Government that it is French activities which have been causing all the trouble?

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any official figures of the total French and Arab casualties, respectively, between 19th May and 1st June in Syria and the Lebanon.

No accurate statistics of casualties in Syria as a whole are yet available. My hon. and gallant Friend will remember that the Prime Minister gave some figures for Damascus in the statement which he made on 5th June.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has made any inquiries with regard to the allegations of looting by French and Senegalese and shooting of hostages during the recent disturbances in Damascus and with what results.

According to information reaching me from both official and other sources, there was some looting toy French troops on 1st June. The fact that the French troops appeared to be out of control was one of the reasons why the Commander in Chief, Middle East, ordered that they should be confined to barracks. I have no confirmation of stories that any hostages were shot.

Is disciplinary action being taken against the French troops guilty of these scandalous activities?