Syria has extradited to Saudi Arabia 12 militants linked to a killed Tunisian militant.

"The Tunisian had planned to set up a training camp for militants on Lebanese territory," the state news agency, Sana, said yesterday.

The agency did not state explicitly that the 12 were Saudi nationals or say when they were handed over, but said it was the first of several planned extraditions of an unspecified number of militants to their countries of origin.

"The Syrian authorities have started to extradite a number of extremists who are in their custody and who belong to several nationalities to their respective countries," Sana said.

It said the militants had been involved in a clash on the Syrian-Lebanese border on June 22, when a Tunisian identified by the media as Majdi Bin Mohammad Bin Said Al Zreibi was killed.

Training camps

The agency, which referred to the Tunisian only by his initials, said he had "planned to establish a camp for training extremists on Lebanese territory", without saying if the purpose was to train volunteers for the anti-US insurgency in Iraq.

The United States has accused Damascus of not doing enough to prevent militants from crossing its territory into Iraq. Damascus says it is doing its best to secure the border.

Syria announced this month that its forces had killed a militant who was among a group trying to cross the border into Lebanon and had arrested at least 34 others.

The militant, apparently Zreibi, was killed in a clash on the Syrian side of the northeastern Lebanese-Syrian border.

Lebanon's Al Manar television station, mouthpiece of the Hezbollah guerrilla group, said at the time that the militants had been intercepted on their way from Iraq to Lebanon.

Militants had been involved in a clash on the Syrian-Lebanese border on June 22 when Tunisian Majdi Bin Mohammad

Bin Saeed Al Zreibi was killed