Official says purported attack ‘proof’ of links between Israel, Syrian insurgency; UK foreign secretary pledges ‘respect’ to Israel’s commitment to own security.
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the strike at Syria overnight represented a “declaration of war” by Israel.
Speaking to CNN the official claimed the alleged attack proved there was a link between Israel and the Syrian rebels engaged in violent combat with the forces supporting President Bashar Assad. He added Syria would respond in the manner and timing of its choosing.
A Western intelligence source said on Sunday that the strike targeted Iranian-supplied missiles to Hezbollah. “In last night’s attack, as in the previous one, what was attacked were stores of Fateh-110 missiles that were in transit from Iran to Hezbollah,” the source said.
Lebanon is also set to file a complaint against Israel with the UN’s Security Council citing “repeated violations perpetrated by Israel, whose planes penetrate the country’s aerial spaces.”
Lebanese Daily Star website quoted caretaker FM Adnan Mansour as saying “such aggression which represents a blatant violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and international resolution including UNSCR 1701.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said “Israel made it clear it would respond if a large amount of arms are being transferred to Hezbollah.” The minister added that “one should respect” Israel’s decision “to protect its security.”
Hague also said the attack shows to what extend “peace in the region is under threat, emphasizing the importantce of lifting the arms embargo placed on the Syrian rebels.
The strike has prompted a flurry of condemnations by high-ranking Iranian officials. The Islamist Republic is known for its affiliation to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, a steadfast foe of the Jewish state.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency as denouncing the attack on the missiles but giving other hints of a possible stronger response from Tehran or its allies. He added that Israeli aggression against Syria is aimed at undermining regional security and stability.”
Head of the country’s infantry General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan said Iran was ready to “train” the Syrian army should the need arise. He went on to say the Iranian military would not take active participation in its Syrian counterpart’s operation, emphasizing the Syrian military has “experience in confronting the Zionist regime” without foreign help.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials on Sunday’s explosions. “We don’t respond to this kind of report,” an Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters.
The Jewish state has repeatedly made clear it is prepared to use force to prevent advanced weapons from Syria reaching Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah terrorists, who fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006. Assad and Hezbollah are allied to Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy.
US President Barack Obama said Saturday, before the overnight attack, that it was up to Israel to confirm or deny any strikes, but that the US coordinates very closely with Israel.
“The Israelis, justifiably, have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah,” Obama told the Spanish-language TV station Telemundo.