Syria warns Israel after ‘lat­est air raids’

Alleged attacks “open the door to all pos­si­bil­i­ties”, Syria’s infor­ma­tion min­is­ter says, as Arab League urges UN action.

Syria’s infor­ma­tion min­is­ter has given warn­ing that Israeli air raids against three tar­gets on the out­skirts of Dam­as­cus “open the door to all possibilities”.

Omran al-Zoubie’s com­ments in Dam­as­cus on Sun­day came after an emer­gency cab­i­net meet­ing organ­ised to respond to what a West­ern source said was a new attack on Iran­ian mis­siles bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

 

Although Zou­bie did not hint at a con­crete course of action, he said it was Syria’s duty to pro­tect the state from any “domes­tic or for­eign attack through all avail­able means”.

He claimed the Israeli attacks are evi­dence of the country’s links with “Islamic extrem­ist groups” try­ing to the Syr­ian government.

Israel declined to con­firm the attack so as not to pres­sure Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-​Assad into seri­ous retal­i­a­tion, accord­ing to a con­fi­dant of Ben­jamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister.

Sunday’s attack is the third Israeli assault this year on Syr­ian soil.

No con­fir­ma­tion

Pre­vi­ous raids on Syria by Israel – which com­mands one of the most advanced mil­i­taries in the world and is backed by the US — have not elicited a mil­i­tary response from Syria or its allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Israel declined to con­firm the strike so as not to pres­sure Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-​Assad into seri­ous retal­i­a­tion, accord­ing to a con­fi­dant of Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu.

Israeli fighter jets struck areas in and around the Dam­as­cus, set­ting off a series of explo­sions, offi­cials and activists said.

The attack, the sec­ond in three days and the third this year, sig­nalled a sharp esca­la­tion of Israel’s involve­ment in Syria’s civil war.

Syr­ian state media reported that Israeli mis­siles struck a mil­i­tary and sci­en­tific research cen­tre near Dam­as­cus and caused casualties.

Syria’s gov­ern­ment called the attacks against against its ter­ri­tory a “fla­grant vio­la­tion of inter­na­tional law” that have made the Mid­dle East “more dangerous”.

A senior Israeli offi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity in order to dis­close infor­ma­tion about a secret mil­i­tary oper­a­tion to the media, con­firmed that Israel launched an air attack in Dam­as­cus early on Sunday.

The tar­gets were report­edly the Jam­raya mil­i­tary and sci­en­tific research cen­tre near Dam­as­cus; a Syr­ian Repub­li­can Guard base is located nearby.

The tar­get was Fateh-​110 mis­siles, which have pre­ci­sion guid­ance sys­tems with bet­ter aim than any­thing Hezbol­lah is known to have in its arse­nal, the offi­cial told the Asso­ci­ated Press news agency.

Dilemma for régime

While the Assad gov­ern­ment tried to use the air attacks to taint the rebels by link­ing them to Israel, the attacks still pose a dilemma for a régime already bat­tling a relent­less rebel­lion at home.

If it fails to respond, it looks weak and opens the door to such air strikes becom­ing a com­mon occurrence.

But any mil­i­tary retal­i­a­tion against Israel would risk drag­ging Israel and its pow­er­ful army into a broader conflict.

The tempo of the new raids added a dan­ger­ous dynamic to the conflict,causing con­cern that events could spin out of con­trol and spark a regional crisis.

Israel’s mil­i­tary deployed on Sun­day two bat­ter­ies of its Iron Dome rocket defence sys­tem to the north of the coun­try. It described the move as part of “ongo­ing sit­u­a­tional assessments”.

Ear­lier, Syria’s for­eign min­istry accused Israel of work­ing with “ter­ror­ist groups”.

“The bla­tant Israeli aggres­sion against mil­i­tary sites in Syria con­firms the coor­di­na­tion between Israel and ter­ror­ist groups and the tak­firis of Jab­hat al-​Nusra, which is a branch of Al-​Qaeda,” the min­istry said in a let­ter to the UN.

The min­istry said the sup­port was intended to boost “ter­ror­ist groups after the fail­ure of their recent attempts to achieve con­trol on the ground.”

The Israeli raids were strongly con­demned by Egypt as a “vio­la­tion” of inter­na­tional law while the Cairo-​based Arab League demanded UN Secu­rity Coun­cil inter­ven­tion to stop such Israeli attacks.

Source: Aljazeera and Agencies

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