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Syria says it has right to counterattack Israel
Taiwan News, Website Editorial Staff
2013-02-01 02:21 PM
Tensions over the Israeli airstrike on Syrian territory appeared to increase on Thursday as Syria delivered a letter to the United Nations declaring its right to self-defense and Israel’s action was condemned not only by longstanding enemies, including Iran and Hezbollah, but also by Russia.

Israeli officials remained silent about their airstrike in Syrian territory on Wednesday, a tactic that experts said was part of a longstanding strategy to give targeted countries face-saving opportunities to avoid worsening a conflict. But Syria’s own confirmation of the attack may have undercut that effort.

“From the moment they chose to say Israel did something, it means someone has to do something after that,” said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser in Israel and a longtime military leader. But other analysts said that Syria’s overtaxed military was unlikely to retaliate and risk an Israeli onslaught that could tip the balance in its fight against the 22-month Syrian uprising. They also said Syria’s ally Hezbollah was loath to provoke conflict with Israel as it sought to maintain domestic calm in neighboring Lebanon.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon declared that Syria had “the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” The Iranian deputy foreign minister warned that the attack would have “grave consequences for Tel Aviv,” while the Russian Foreign Ministry said the strike “blatantly violates the United Nations Charter and is unacceptable and unjustified, whatever its motives.” Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack — as did some Syrian rebels, seeking to deny President Bashar al-Assad of Syria a chance to rally support as a victim of Israel.

Many questions swirled about the target, motivations and repercussions of the Israeli attack, which Arab and Israeli analysts said demonstrated the rapid changes in the region’s strategic picture as Mr. Assad’s government weakens — including the possibility that Hezbollah, Syria or both were moving arms to Lebanon, believing they would be more secure there than with Syria’s beleaguered military, which faces intense attacks by rebels on major weapons installations.

American officials said Israel hit a convoy before dawn on Wednesday that was ferrying sophisticated SA-17 antiaircraft missiles to Lebanon. The Syrians and their allies said the target was a research facility in the Damascus suburb of Jamraya.

It remained unclear Thursday whether there was one strike or two. Also unclear was the research outpost’s possible role in weapons production or storage for Syria or Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite organization that has long battled with Israel and plays a leading role in the Lebanese government.

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