Iranian soldiers prepare to launch a Hawk surface-to-air missile during military maneuvers. (AFP Photo / Amin Khoroshahi)
Syria has filed an official complaint to the United Nations over an Israeli airstrike on a military research center near Damascus. The move followed a threat from Iran that Israel would face “serious consequences” for the attack.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Tel Aviv would face repercussions for the Israeli airstrike against a military research center in Jamraya, rural Damascus, the semi-official Fars news quotes him as saying.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned what he characterized as “brutal aggression” against Syria.
“There is no doubt that this aggression is part of a Western and Zionist strategy to push aside the success of the Syrian people and government to return to stability and security,” Hurriyet Daily News cites him as saying.
Salehi said the strike highlights the “alignment of terrorist groups with the Zionists’ objectives.”
Syria has summoned the commander of The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights to deliver a former protest for the Israel attack.
Damascus says the airstrike violates the 1974 disengagement agreement that established a ceasefire between the two sides.
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali says Damascus could take “a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes.” He gave no details on when the retaliation would be, only saying the relevant authorities would be tasked with preparing for it.
“Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land,” Ali continued.
The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah condemned the Israeli airstrike on Thursday, saying it was an attempt to cripple Arab military capabilities. Hezbollah further called for “wide-scale condemnation from the international community,” the Jerusalem Post cites them as saying in a statement.
Hezbollah further “expressed its full solidarity with Syria’s leadership, army and people.”
US officials said the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Strike within Syria on Wednesday was targeting a convoy allegedly carrying anti-aircraft weaponry intended for Hezbollah. Anonymous officials also said Israel had warned the United States prior to the attack.
The Syrian military denied that any such shipment was taking place, saying Israeli warplanes flying low to avoid radar bombed the research center in a dawn raid, leaving two dead and five injured.
Syrian rebels have disputed that Israel carried out the attack, claiming their forces initiated the assault on the site.
Israeli officials and the military have refused on Thursday to confirm or deny that its war planes struck within Syrian territory.
On Thursday the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its concern over reports of the Israeli airstrike, saying that any unprovoked attack on the territory of a sovereign state is in violation of the UN Charter.
The Jamraya research center, located some 8 miles from Syria’s border with Lebanon, has been described as crucial to Syria’s missile program, Middle Eastern diplomats familiar with the site told Reuters.
They also say Jamraya has a chemical weapons facility, though there are no indications that any such weapons were targeted in Wednesday’s strike.
Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, one of the most senior Syrian army officers to have defected, told The Associated Press by telephone from Turkey that no chemical or nonconventional weapons are at the site.