President Bush telephoned Syrian President Hafez Assad to assure him U.S. and allied planes were not attacking Iraqi civilians or religious sites, Syrian officials said Thursday.

Bush telephoned Assad, whose troops in the multinational anti-Iraq alliance in Saudi Arabia saw action for the first time in the gulf war this week, Wednesday evening, the officials added. "President Assad expressed his satisfaction that civilians and religious places were not targeted and affirmed that it was essential that efforts be made to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region after the settlement of the gulf crisis," the officials said.Syria has insisted that a settlement of the Persian Gulf crisis could not be achieved without full Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and has accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of "obstinacy" and failure to respond to peace calls.