UK & World News

  • 4 February 2013, 8:33

Assad: Syria Can Confront Israeli Aggression

President Bashar al Assad has accused Israel of trying to destabilise Syria after an air strike on a military research base near Damascus last week.

The comments by MrAssad are the first since the attack on Wednesday that US officials say was targeting a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons inside Syria bound for Hizbollah.

State TV said MrAssad spoke during a meeting with visiting top Iranian officialSaeed Jalili.

The president said Syria is capable of facing current challenges and can "confront any aggression" that would target the Syrian people.

Purported images of the targeted site show destroyed cars, trucks and military vehicles. A building has broken windows and damaged interiors, but no major structural damage.

State news agency SANA quoted Mr 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".

Following the attack, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus "has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation," but that it was up to the relevant authorities to choose the time and place.

Israel's defence minister has indicated that his country was behind the air strike, in the first public comments from his government on the attack.

Ehud Barak brought the issue up at a gathering of the world's top diplomats and defence officials in Germany, initially saying: "I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago."

But he added: "I keep telling frankly that we said - and that's proof when we said something we mean it - we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."

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