The ambiguity over a purported Israeli strike in Syria last Wednesday began to
lift Sunday, with Syrian President Bashar Assad directly blaming Israel and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak indirectly taking responsibility.
accused Israel of trying to destabilize his country by attacking a military
research base outside Damascus, and warning Syria could “confront threats... and
aggression” against it.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said Assad made
the remarks in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran’s national security council
secretary, at a meeting in the Syrian capital. It was Assad’s first response to
Barak, meanwhile, hinted in comments at the Munich
Security Conference on Sunday that Israel was behind the attack.
cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened
in Syria several days ago,” he said. “But I keep telling frankly that we said –
and that’s another proof when we say something, we mean it – we say that we
don’t think [Syria] should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into
Lebanon, and Hezbollah, from Syria when Assad falls.”
Barak also said
that Hezbollah and the Iranians were Assad’s only remaining allies, adding that
the beleaguered Syrian leader’s fall was “coming imminently,” and that it would
be a major blow to both Iran and Hezbollah.
SANA, meanwhile, quoted
Jalili as reaffirming Tehran’s “full support for the Syrian
facing the Zionist aggression, and its continued coordination
to confront the conspiracies and foreign projects.”
Speaker Ali Larijani also warned Israel on Sunday of the consequences of the
“The world is witnessing a vengeance carried out by the
West, particularly the US, and some backward elements in the region against
resistance,” he accused.
Larijani called on countries in the region to
distance themselves from Israel and said he believed “the Islamic awakening
movement in the region would give a proper response to the Zionist
Syria was even egged on by NATO ally Turkey, with Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemning the alleged Israeli strikes and labeling it
“Those who have been treating Israel like a spoiled child should expect anything from them, at any time,” AFP quoted Erdogan
as saying on Sunday.
“As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of
waging state terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and
where it might do it.”
The Turkish prime minister said that “we cannot
regard a violation of air space as acceptable,” and added “what Israel does is
completely against international law...
it is beyond
Erdogan’s comments followed by a day Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressing disappointment that Syria has not taken
action against Israel.
“Why didn’t Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli
jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?”
he was quoted as saying by the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
“Why didn’t the
Syrian Army, which has been attacking its own innocent people for 22 months now
from the air with jets and by land with tanks and artillery fire, respond to
Israel’s operation? Why can’t Assad, who gave order to fire SCUD missiles at
Aleppo, do anything against Israel?” Davutoglu said, adding that Turkey would
not stay unresponsive to an Israeli attack against any Muslim country.
response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor tersely said, “These
statements can be described in many ways, and diplomatic is not one of
Ironically, Palmor articulated support for Turkish military action
against Syrian army positions in October following a cross-border mortar attack
from Syria that killed five Turks in a city near the Syrian
“Turkey’s reciprocation to Syria was right and justified
according to international law,” Palmor was quoted widely at the time as saying
in the Turkish press. “Surely the Turkish government has the right to take
measures to protect its citizens and all others must respect Turkey’s decisions
on the matter. We respect Turkey’s right to self-defense.”
contributed to this report. •