Al-Assad accuses Israel of trying to 'destabilize' Syria

Al-Assad accuses Israel of trying to 'destabilize' Syria

Al-Assad accuses Israel of trying to destabilize Syria

President Bashar al-Assad. Hürriyet Photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel today of trying to destabilize Syria by attacking a military research base outside Damascus last week, asserting that Syria was able to confront "current threats ... and aggression," state media said, Reuters has reported.

Al-Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran's national security council secretary, in the Syrian capital. It was his first reported response to the attack.

State news agency SANA quoted Jalili as reaffirming Tehran's "full support for the Syrian people ... facing the Zionist aggression, and its continued coordination to confront the conspiracies and foreign projects."

The raid "unmasked the true role Israel is playing, in collaboration with foreign enemy forces and their agents on Syrian soil, to destabilise and weaken Syria," al-Assad said, Agence France-Presse has reported.

The Syrian president, Shiite Iran's closest Arab ally, is battling a 22-month-old uprising in which 60,000 people have been killed. Al-Assad says the rebels are Islamist terrorists funded and armed by Turkey and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states.

Neighboring Israel has said it might have to intervene to prevent Syrian chemical or advanced weapons falling into the hands of militant groups, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006.

Diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources said Israeli jets bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border on Jan. 30, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah. Syria said the target was a military research center northwest of Damascus.