Syria intervention signs growing, Moscow warns
Israel carried out its second air strike in days on Syria early on Sunday, a Western intelligence source says, in an attack that shook Damascus. REUTERS photoRussia expressed its concern yesterday on the rising chances of foreign military intervention in Syria after reports of Israeli air raids around Damascus which were a source of “particular alarm.”
“We are seriously concerned by the signs of preparation of global public opinion for possible armed intervention in the long-running internal conflict in Syria,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. He suggested those concerns stemmed in part from media reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets on the weekend killed at least 15 soldiers and dozens more were unaccounted for, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said yesterday.
Syria said Israel targeted three military sites near Damascus early May 5, with a diplomatic source in Beirut saying the raids were against a military facility, weapons depot and anti-aircraft unit. Israel is yet to officially confirm that it has struck Syrian targets, including surface-to-air missiles that one source said were believed to have been delivered by Russia. Moscow was also analyzing the “reports of Israeli air strikes on May 3 and May 5 on sites in the suburbs of Damascus, which caused particular alarm,” Lukashevich said.
Phone to Israeli PM
“The further escalation of armed confrontation increases the risk of creating new areas of tension, in addition to Syria, in Lebanon, and the destabilization of the so-far relatively calm atmosphere on the Lebanese-Israeli border. The internationalization of the extremely dangerous and destructive internal conflict in Syria must not be permitted,” he said, calling for “decisive efforts aimed at shifting the events in Syria into a peaceful channel.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Kremlin said yesterday. Putin and Netanyahu discussed the “situation in the region and the situation around Syria,” the president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has condemned the air strikes as tantamount to a “declaration of war” as a senior Israeli lawmaker said yesterday the strikes were not aimed at weakening al-Assad, but were rather designed to ensure Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of al-Assad, does not receive high-tech weaponry.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also urged the West not to politicize the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria, which officials suggest has now been carried out by both sides. “We insistently urge [an end to the politicization of] this extremely serious question and whipping up of an anti-Syrian atmosphere,” the ministry statement said.
Turkey slams Israel over Syria raids
Turkey has slammed Israel over raids it conducted on Syrian targets over the weekend.
President Abdullah Gül told reporters during a visit to Portugal that there was nothing more dangerous than Israel’s involvement in the Syrian crisis. “There is nothing more dangerous than the involvement of Israel in what is going on in Syria. Especially in the Middle East, its involvement would be a dangerous thing and would ruin everything,” he said, adding that Israel’s actions would serve the interests of Damascus. “[Israel] will be questioned over what it is serving by being involved in those incidents. This will very much serve the [Syrian] regime. Everyone will question why it has gotten involved,” he said.
Asked if the raids targeted Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Gül said: “This would not justify [Israel’s] strike on [Syria].”