The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 31, 2013

Syria threatens to retaliate for Israeli airstrike



BEIRUT (AP) — Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said there will be repercussions for the Jewish state over the attack.

U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday. The target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said Damascus "has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation."

In Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.

Hezbollah condemned the attack as "barbaric aggression" and Syrian ally Russia said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.

The Syrian ambassador said he could not predict when Damascus would retaliate. He told Hezbollah's al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to prepare the retaliation and choose the time and place.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned the airstrike on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syria's sovereignty. Iran is Syria's strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided President Bashar Assad's government with military and political backing for years.

Russia, Syria's strongest international ally, said Moscow is taking "urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details."

"If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Whatever the motives, this is not justified."

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