Assad claims Syria is 'able to confront threats' after Israel attack
President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of trying to destabilise Syria by attacking a military research base outside Damascus last week, and said Syria was able to confront "current threats ...and aggression" against it.
Syria's state news agency SANA said Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran's national security council secretary, at meeting in the Syrian capital. It was Assad's first reported response to Wednesday's attack.
Syrian state television has broadcast images of the site near Damascus hit by Israeli war planes. Syria claims the site was a research centre, while other reports claim the target was a weapons convoy heading from Syria towards Lebanon.
The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has made statements which strongly imply that Israel did carry out Wednesday's airstrike on Syria, which the US says was targeting a weapons convoy. The Jewish state had not until now officially acknowledged the attack.
What happened in Syria several days ago ... that's proof that 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.
Russia said it was very concerned about reports of an Israeli air attack inside Syria, and that any such action, if confirmed, would amount to unacceptable military interference. The Russian Foreign Ministry said:
If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.
The Associated Press reports the shipment included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which could pose a serious threat to the region's balance of power if they fall in the hands of Iranian-backed Hezbollah.