May 24, 2013
Syria warns of "surprise" response to Israel attack
Syria warned of a possible "surprise" response to Israel's attack on its territory and Russia condemned the air strike as an unprovoked violation of international law.
Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes", Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said a day after Israel struck against Syria.
"Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land," Ali told a website of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria and Israel have fought several wars and in 2007 Israeli jets bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site, without a military response from Damascus.
Diplomats, Syrian rebels and regional security sources said on Wednesday that Israeli jets had bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah. Syria denied the reports, saying the target had been a military research center northwest of Damascus.
Hezbollah, which has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he battles an armed uprising in which 60,000 people have been killed, said Israel was trying to thwart Arab military power and vowed to stand by its ally.
"Hezbollah expresses its full solidarity with Syria's leadership, army and people," said the group which fought an inconclusive 34-day war with Israel in 2006.
Israel has remained silent on the attack and there has been little reaction from its Western backers, but Syria's allies in Moscow and Tehran were quick to denounce the strike.
Russia, which has blocked Western efforts to put pressure on Syria at the United Nations, said that any Israeli air strike would amount to unacceptable military interference.
"If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said the attack "demonstrates the shared goals of terrorists and the Zionist regime", Fars news agency reported. Assad portrays the rebels fighting him as foreign-backed, Islamist terrorists, with the same agenda as Israel.
"It is necessary for the sides which take tough stances on Syria to now take serious steps and decisive stances against this aggression by Tel Aviv and uphold criteria for security in the region," Abdullahian said.
An aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that Iran would consider any attack on Syria as an attack on itself, but Abdullahian made no mention of retaliation.
Hezbollah said the attack showed that the conflict in Syria was part of a scheme "to destroy Syria and its army and foil its pivotal role in the resistance front (against Israel)".