Ahmed Jibril, the chief of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said Syria refused a U.S. request to expel his group from Damascus, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Jibril, whose statement was published by the leading Beirut newspaper, An-Nahar, said the U.S. call was made during a recent visit to Syria by Secretary of State James Baker.Syrian President Hafez Assad told Baker that he considered Washington's request as a "Zionist (Israeli) one," Jibril said.

"President Assad told Baker that the demand was Zionist and that his country doesn't respond to such calls from its enemy," said Jibril, who made his statement during a Palestinian guerrilla rally in Damascus Monday.

The Palestinian chief said a similar request was also made by former Secretary of State George Shultz.

Western reports have suggested that Jibril's group had a role in the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, 21 months ago in which 270 people died.

Lebanese media reports had indicated that Assad wanted tangible evidence that Jibril's group had a hand in the disastrous blast.