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.
​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

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
January 31, 2013 1:38 PM
It is pathetic that Syria cannot comply to the UN resolutions about human rights violations. Assads cronies such as Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah beat their chest wailing after the Israeli air strike at the convoy of anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon and/or the military research facility at Jamraya. Israel is serving notice to Assad that one similar airstrike against him will eliminate him and stop the carnage in Syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs