The Syrian government on Thursday threatened Israel with a possible retaliatory attack after an Israeli air strike a day earlier.
There were conflicting reports on the exact target of the Israeli air strike, with Reuters and The Associated Press reporting that the target were trucks carrying missiles from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. However, Syrian state-run media reported that the air strike hit a target outside of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
“Allegations of some media outlets that the Israeli warplanes targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon are baseless,” Syrian state-run SANA said, citing a statement issued by the army’s General Command.
The report added, “It has become clear to everyone that Israel is the motivator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts which target Syria and its resistant people, with some countries that support terrorism being accomplices in this, primarily Turkey and Qatar.”
Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, made the threat against Israel on Thursday, saying Syria “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation,” AP reported, citing a report on Hezbollah’s al-Ahd website. Hezbollah, an ally of Syria, termed the attack as “barbaric aggression” by Israel.
Israel did not confirm carrying out the attack, but a lawmaker who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that there might be possible air strikes in the future, AP said.
Security officials said that the shipment to Lebanon included Russian-manufactured SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, a sophisticated weapon that could bolster Hezbollah’s offensive against Israel in the future.
But a Syrian general who defected, Maj. Gen Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, told the AP news agency via telephone from Turkey that Israel hit a site known as a “major and well-known” research center used to develop weapons. He said that Russians and Iranians are on-site at the center.
Iran, the staunchest ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said that there would be consequences for Israel after the attack.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the semi-official Mehr News Agency that Israel “should not be over-confident because of the Patriot Air Defense systems deployed in the region, since it [Patriot Air Defense] has proven its ineffectiveness in the Gaza 8-day war recently.”
Syria also lodged a complaint with the United Nations over the Israeli strike.
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