News / Middle East

    Syria Vows to Hold Israel Accountable for Air Strike

    An Israeli F-16 jet fighter flies near the city of Ashdod, Nov. 18, 2012 (file photo).
    An Israeli F-16 jet fighter flies near the city of Ashdod, Nov. 18, 2012 (file photo).
    Syria has vowed to hold Israel and its allies accountable for a suspected Israeli air strike on a Syrian military target near Damascus.

    The Syrian foreign ministry sent a letter to the United Nations Thursday, stressing what it called Syria's right to defend its sovereignty and territory.  It also filed a complaint about the alleged Israeli attack with a U.N. peacekeeping commander in the Golan Heights.

    Israel has neither confirmed nor denied launching any military operation in Syria.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern" about the reports of an Israeli air strike but said the world body cannot independently verify what happened.  He called on all parties in the region to prevent tensions from escalating and respect each other's territorial integrity.
     
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    ​A U.N. spokesman said the Golan peacekeepers did not observe any Israeli planes flying into Syria.  He also said weather conditions were bad at the time of the suspected air strike.

    Conflicting accounts

    U.S. and regional security sources say Israeli aircraft on Wednesday hit a Syrian convoy heading toward Lebanon and transporting missiles, likely intended for Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.  The White House has warned Syria not to engage in such weapons transfers.

    Syrian state media gave a different account of the purported Israeli air strike, saying it targeted the Jamraya military research facility outside Damascus.  People living nearby said several rockets hit the complex, causing a fire.  Syrian rebels claimed they had fired mortar shells at the facility.

    Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said Damascus has the "option" of carrying out a "surprise" response to the Israeli attack. He did not elaborate in his remarks to Lebanese website Al-Ahad.

    Syrian government allies Iran and Hezbollah also condemned Israel.

    Iranian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying the attack will have "serious consequences" for Israel's commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

    Hezbollah said the strike on Jamraya was part of a plot to "destroy" Syria and prevent Arabs from developing military capabilities for "resistance" against Israel.

    Russia, another Syrian ally, expressed serious concern about the incident.  A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said that if the reports of an Israeli air strike are confirmed, it would be an "unacceptable" action against a sovereign nation, in violation of the United Nations charter.

    Hezbollah connection

    Despite its political arm, Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by some nations and has among its goals the destruction of Israel.

    In recent days, Israeli officials have expressed increasing concern about what they see as a threat of Assad transferring sophisticated arms or chemical weapons to Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006.  Those officials warned that Hezbollah's acquisition of surface-to-air missiles from Syria would be a “game changer."

    Israeli lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi said Thursday that Israel's preference is for Western powers to control those weapons.  But he said the international community is not prepared to take such action, leaving Israel in a "dilemma" that only it knows how to resolve.

    Middle East Analyst Riad Kahwaji, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said Wednesday's attack was a warning to Damascus from Israel.

    “What we witnessed is the Israeli implementation of a self-declared red line," he said.

    Edward Yeranian in Cairo contributed to this report

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    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    February 02, 2013 4:46 PM
    The situation for Sunni Muslim civilians today is hitting a new low. Media reports today indicate that many cities in Syria are being bombarded by Assad's forces using their heaviest weapons. This is very remenicent of the nazi bombardments that turned Stalingrad into rubble, where tenth of thousands of courageous Russian citizens lost their lives. It is ironic now, that it is Russian supplied weapons, which continue to flow to the Assad regime that are doing the same to innocent Sunni muslim civilians. I hope that the peace talks bare some results and the carnage comes to an end., for this is the worst conflict in the Middle East in the last 50 years. In all the conflicts put together, no where near this many innocent civilians have been killed. More Sunni civilians will continue to die if this conflict is not stopped and humanitarian aid does not reach them.

    by: Anonymous
    February 02, 2013 3:29 AM
    Excuse me Igor from: Russia, but I doubt very much that the UN wants to protect Bashar al Assad who has been inflicting genocide on the Nation of Syria.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    February 01, 2013 11:47 PM
    Israel's action is unforgivable and need to be punished! if we dare not punish Israel for what it has done, we should disperse the UN because it has failed to protect any country with sovereignty. Russia is an ally to Syria but it has also failed to detect and protect Syria from any invasion from Israel. So Russia should be ashamed of itself and withdraw its troops from Syria, close its naval base.

    by: Dr. Holmes from: USA
    February 01, 2013 11:40 AM
    where was the UN..??? wasn't the UN supposed to have prevented the transfer of weapons from Assad to a terrorist organization..??? I begin to think that the more the UN castigate Israel the more of its corruption and illegitimacy it expose of itself. We must stop supporting this corrupt organization forthwith.

    by: JohnWV from: USA
    February 01, 2013 7:18 AM
    Rush-rush-hurry-quick! Bibi demands America threaten Iran, Syria and Russia with red lines.

    by: Hassan Al Sheiky from: Lebanon
    February 01, 2013 2:06 AM
    you have got to love the Israeli message to Assad... you supply the Hizboz and we will obliterate all your toys... and you end up like all dictators - hung upside down from a dirty poll of a Gas Station... i say - thank God for Israel - a tiny nation with the heart of a lion. look at the "European democracies" craven cowards hiding behind the corrupt UN... 60000 dead Syrians and only one nation stood up... may God bless you beautiful angles beloved of God

    by: Anonymous
    January 31, 2013 9:25 PM
    Bashar al Assad Vows to Hold Israel Accountable for Air Strike ... But the world vows to hold Bashar al Assad responsible for his crimes... I hope they slap him so hard with the ICC...

    by: Chris Murphy from: UK
    January 31, 2013 4:48 PM
    In reply to Davis K Thanjan.....how much more pathetic are the non compliances of the US, UK and Israel in regards to human rights violations? Two wrongs don't make a right but it seems that the so called " war on terror " tends to gloss over the violations that the western alliance makes as "necessary" to security/intelligence needs. Sorry, but a violation is a violation, there can never be any excuse if you want to use the argument against your enemy that they are abusing human rights if you are abusing these rights yourself.

    by: Anonymous
    January 31, 2013 3:39 PM
    I agree with what Davis K. Thanjan said. It should be a stern warning that Bashar al Assad can be disabled. Bashar seems to think he is above the law of humanity.

    by: musawi melake
    January 31, 2013 3:20 PM
    In reality Syrians should have responded with conventional and non-conventional weapons immediately after the air-raid, for a nation has the right to safe-gourd itself. If they had done that in massive scale, the Muslim world would have rallied around them and the outcome might have been partially erasing illegal Jewish state from the world map. The fact that this wasn't done shows that the Syrians did not have the capability of taking action and thereby is a spent force!
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