Israel and ‘states that protect it’ responsible for the air strike: Syria
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on January 24, 2013.Syria threatened on Thursday to retaliate over what it says was an Israeli air raid, as President Bashar al-Assad's allies rushed to denounce the strike that threatened to take the conflict beyond Syria's borders.
Israel maintained a stony silence over Syria's claims, as well as over separate reports that its jets had struck a weapons convoy near the Lebanon border.
Syria's foreign ministry said Israel "and the states that protect it" are responsible for the air strike, and "affirms Syria's right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty," state news agency SANA reported.
It called on "all the competent UN bodies to take the necessary steps given this grave Israeli violation, and to guarantee that it will not happen again."
Damascus's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, stressed Syria's right to respond to "the Zionist aggression." "The Israelis, and the United States behind them, along with their Arab and regional accomplices, realise that Syria, which defends its sovereignty and territory, may decide to respond by surprise to this aggression." "It is up to the competent powers to choose the appropriate answer, and to determine the means and the place," Ali added in remarks to Lebanese website Al-Ahad, which is close to the powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.
Washington warns Syria about the transfer of weapons
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted the reported strike with "grave concern," said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey, while stressing that the United Nations has no details of the incident nor could it "independently verify what has occurred." "The secretary general calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation in the region."
Meanwhile, the White House warned Syria not to transfer weapons to Hezbollah. "Syria should not further destabilize the region by transferring weaponry to Hezbollah," said Ben Rhodes, a US deputy national security advisor.
Iranian FM denounces a 'Zionist strategy'
Hezbollah, one of the closest allies of Damascus, denounced "a new Zionist aggression."
Another close ally, Iran's foreign minister condemned what he called Israel's "brutal aggression" against Syria. "There is no doubt that this aggression is part of a Western and Zionist strategy to push aside the success of the Syrian people and government to return to stability and security," Ali Akbar Salehi said in a statement.
It underscores the "alignment of terrorist groups with the Zionists' objectives," he added, using the Syrian regime's stock word for describing rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
In the past, Iran has said that any Israeli attack on Syria would be considered an attack on the Islamic republic.
Russia's foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned" but was still trying to verify the Syrian allegations.
"If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification," it said.
Opposition condemns Syria's inaction
Earlier today, Syria's main opposition chief condemned President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its failure to take action against an Israeli air strike a day earlier.
"Shame on you, O regime of Bashar al-Assad, that the Israeli warplanes have come and your jets are only focused on destroying mosques and universities, and to kill civilians," Syrian National Coalition chief Moaz al-Khatib said.
"Your planes are watching and they do not stop the Israeli jets," he told Al-Jazeera television.
Khatib spoke to Al-Jazeera from Cairo, where the National Coalition is based. The grouping is recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.