Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu categorically denied claims that his
country cooperated with Israel in Thursday’s attack on a Syrian missile base,
saying Turkey would never help the Jewish state against a Muslim
“There is an attempt to give the impression that Turkey has
coordinated with Israel,” the Hurriyet Daily News quoted him Saturday as saying
at a press conference with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
“We have issues with Syria, an issue based on a
principle. But let me say it clearly: The Turkish government has never
cooperated with Israel against any Muslim country, and it never will,” he
On Thursday, the Lebanese television station MTV cited Israeli
officials who allegedly claimed that Turkey had supported the strike by
providing Israel with critical information.
Davutoglu characterized the
reports as “black propaganda.”
“Those [reports] are attempts to cast a
shadow on the Syrian people’s rightful struggle and Turkey’s attitude with
principles,” he said. “It is out of the question for us to participate in any
Davutoglu said Turkey would come out against any
Israeli operation but emphasized that information on who had been behind
Thursday’s strike was not yet confirmed.
An air base near the port city
of Latakia was reported to have been completely destroyed in a missile attack
from the sea.
On Saturday, Israeli officials remained tight-lipped about
both the attack and US administration leaks claiming that Israel had been
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other cabinet
ministers have said repeatedly in the past that Israel would not tolerate the
transfer to Hezbollah of game-changing weapons such as advanced Russian
anti-aircraft or anti-ship missiles, long range missiles or chemical
“We have said many times that we will not allow the transfer of
advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, a
member of the security cabinet, told Israel Radio.
“We are sticking to
this policy and I say so without denying or confirming this report.”
security cabinet met just prior to the alleged attack, but the debate was
believed to have centered on the IDF budget.
An activist in Latakia told
Reuters that an explosion had rocked a garrison area housing an air force
brigade loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad near Snobar Jableh village
mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
Ambulances were heard rushing to the scene,
although the activist, who called himself Khaled, said there was a “total media
blackout” about the incident.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights quoted sources as saying there had been four or five explosions at
the base, but only limited damage. The Al-Arabiya news network said SAM-8
anti-aircraft missiles had been destroyed.
Former Syrian intelligence
agent Afaq Ahmad, a defector now in exile in France, told Reuters Thursday that
contacts inside Syria, including in Latakia province, told him Russian-made
ballistic missiles had been kept at the site.
Khaled, the Latakia
activist, said Assad loyalists were frustrated over Israel’s apparent impunity,
recalling that the Syrian president had previously indicated Syria would respond
to further attacks.
“Yet Israel keeps hitting us and there’s no
retaliation. So even the staunchest loyalists are getting very upset,” he
Locals said they did not hear warplanes at the time of the blasts,
and there was initial confusion about who was behind them. A source who declined
to be named said the limited damage on the ground suggested pinpoint missile
A foreign diplomat said that in the past the Israelis had
succeeded in creating confusion by using stand-off ordnance – missiles or
gliding bombs that can be released long distances from the target.
US officials were placing responsibility for the attack on Israel’s shoulders
raised “very disturbing questions” and affected “trust between allies,” an
unnamed Israeli official was quoted as saying Saturday in the British newspaper
“Sharing information is embedded in the nature of the
relationship between Israel and the US,” the official said. “It’s like a big
pipeline that’s open to permanent flow. So disclosing information is a cause for
This would not be the first time Israel was alarmed at a US
penchant to leak sensitive information. Last April, Israeli officials expressed
concern following a spate of high-profile reports quoting senior US officials
discussing a possible Israeli military operation against Iran, including one in
the US journal Foreign Policy claiming that Israel had secured the use of
airbases in Azerbaijan for a possible attack on the Islamic
Some analysts have said the US leaks might signal irritation in
Washington over Israeli action at a time when Syria had bowed to international
pressure and was dismantling its large chemical weapons arsenal.
Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv
University, said Israel had to make many calculations before approving attacks
“Israel is sending a message to Assad, saying don’t play games
with us,” Rabi said.
He added, however, that Israel must also realize
that “the situation is becoming much more delicate than ever because this is
going against the US diplomatic agenda.”
Rabi said the “working
assumption” in Israel was that Assad was so focused on battling rebels that he
could not afford to retaliate.
However, he expected that Syria would seek
international support to prevent Israeli air strikes.
staff contributed to this report.