Assad hints at retaliation for Israeli 'attack' in Syria

In rare TV interview with 'The Sunday Times' Syrian president refers to reported bombing of research center, says his country has always reacted to Israeli actions; criticizes UK involvement in Syrian affairs.

March 3, 2013 09:08
2 minute read.
Syrian President Bashar Assad gives 'Sunday Times' interview, March 2, 2013

Syrian President Assad gives 'Sunday Times' interview 390. (photo credit: Screenshot Sky News)


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Syrian President Bashar Assad said he would react to Israel's reported bombing of a research center in his country, in a television interview with The Sunday Times newspaper aired in London late on Saturday.

Assad said Syria had always retaliated for Israeli actions, “but we retaliated in our own way, and only the Israelis know what we mean. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced.”

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At the beginning of February, Assad 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.

Israel has not confirmed its involvement in the Syrian attack. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, hinted in comments he made at a Munich Security Conference in February that Israel was behind the attack.

“I 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.”

With regard to the fighting that has gripped his country Assad singled out Britain and said its involvement has been naive and unrealistic.

"I think they (Britain) are working against us, and they are working against the interests of the UK itself," Assad said in English-language remarks broadcast by Britain's Sky TV.

"This government is acting in a naive, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role they have to change this, they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way."

Assad added: "How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better, more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less when they want to send the military supply to the terrorist?"

Backed by the United States, Britain and much of Western Europe, Syria's opposition has made plain that Assad can play no role in a future Syrian government.

But as the situation deteriorates on the ground, the opposition is increasingly frustrated with the West's reluctance to get directly involved in the fighting, and wants foreign powers to send weapons to help its fighters.

On Thursday, the United States said it would for the first time give non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, describing the aid as a way to bolster the rebels' popular support.

The assistance will include medical supplies, food for rebel fighters and $60 million to help the civil opposition provide basic services like security, education and sanitation.

Britain supports increasing general assistance to the rebels and has not ruled out supplying arms at some point in the future if the situation continued to deteriorate. 

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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