Syria's Assad: Israeli Warplanes Hit 'Unused Military Building'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said in an interview that Israeli warplanes attacked what he said was an "unused military building" in Syria last month, and that his country reserves the right to retaliate.

It was the first public comment by the Syrian leader about the Israeli air raid on September sixth. Mr. Assad told the British Broadcasting Corporation, in the interview broadcast Monday that the airstrike shows what he alleged was Israel's "visceral antipathy towards peace."

Syria said Israeli aircraft violated its airspace and dropped munitions. There are unconfirmed reports that the Israeli planes carried out a secret strike on a Syrian nuclear facility.

Mr. Assad said Syria has different means to retaliate for the Israeli airstrike, including political options. He said that retaliation does not mean "missile for missile and bomb for bomb."

He also said Syria will not attend a U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference planned for November unless it addresses Syria's demand for a return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

Mr. Assad said his government needs further clarification about the agenda of the conference before deciding whether to attend.

The United States has called for a conference to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and has said it plans to invite Syria and other Arab nations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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