Syria protests over Israel attack, warns of "surprise"

Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:14pm EST
 
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By Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria protested to the United Nations on Thursday over an Israeli air strike on its territory and warned of a possible "surprise" response.

The foreign ministry summoned the head of the U.N. force in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to deliver the protest a day after Israel hit what Syria said was a military research centre and diplomats said was a weapons convoy heading for Lebanon.

"Syria holds Israel and those who protect it in the Security Council fully responsible for the results of this aggression and affirms its right to defend itself, its land and sovereignty," Syrian television quoted it as saying.

The ministry said it considered Wednesday's Israeli attack to be a violation of a 1974 military disengagement agreement which followed their last major war, and demanded the U.N. Security Council condemn it unequivocally.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern". "The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation," his office said, adding that international law and sovereignty should be respected.

Israel has maintained total silence over the attack, as it did in 2007 when it bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site - an attack which passed without Syrian military retaliation.

In Beirut on Thursday Syria's ambassador said Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes". He gave no details but said Syria was "defending its sovereignty and its land".

Diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources said Israeli jets bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border on Wednesday, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah. Syria denied the reports, saying the target was a military research centre northwest of Damascus and 8 miles from the border.   Continued...

 
An Israeli soldier looks on as a United Nations jeep drives past the Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, in the Golan Heights, on the Israeli side of the 1973 ceasefire line with Syria January 31, 2013. Israeli forces attacked a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, a Western diplomat and regional security sources said on Wednesday, as concern has grown in the Jewish state over the fate of Syrian chemical and advanced conventional weapons. REUTERS/Baz Ratner