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Israel, Syria Exchange Warnings Over Recent Israeli Air Strike


Israel and Syria have exchanged warnings over Israel's air strike a week ago against what it said was a terrorist training camp near Syria's capital, Damascus.

Israel said it regarded terrorist bases inside Syria and other nations in the region as legitimate military targets. The warning came in sharp reaction to a warning Syria on Saturday that it had the right to defend itself, if it came under attack from Israeli forces again. Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani issued her government's warning in response to Israel's bombing last weekend of what Israel said was a training base for the Islamic Jihad inside Syria.

The Israeli operation came in reaction to a suicide bombing by the Islamic Jihad that killed at least 20 people in a restaurant in the port city of Haifa.

Mrs. Kanafani told a media briefing in Damascus that Syria had the right to retaliate, if Israel decided to launch any more military strikes.

In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gideon Meir, said terrorist organizations and their leaders are legitimate targets, whether they are in Syria or elsewhere.

He insisted Israel has the right to defend its citizens against terrorist attacks like the suicide bombing in Haifa.

Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, said last week that Israel has evidence linking Syria to the suicide bombing.

The Syrian spokeswoman, Mrs. Kanafani, said all suicide bombings in Israel are masterminded and carried out by Palestinians, not by citizens of Syria.

She confirmed that some leaders of militant Palestinian factions are in Syria, but only because they were not allowed by Israel to return to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The U.S. administration has called on Syria to cease harboring terrorists, but it urged both Israel and Syria to avoid any actions that could further inflame tensions in th e region.

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