Syria reacts to air strike

The Assad regime sent a letter to the U.N. chief threatening to retaliate against Israel.

Posted: February 01, 2013

BEIRUT - Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli air strike, and its ally Iran said the Jewish state would regret the attack.

Syria sent a letter to the U.N. secretary-general stressing the country's "right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty" and holding Israel and its supporters accountable.

"Israel and those who protect it at the Security Council are fully responsible for the repercussions of this aggression," the letter from Syria's Foreign Ministry said.

U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare air strike inside Syria on Wednesday targeting a convoy carrying antiaircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.

In Israel, a lawmaker close to 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 attack has inflamed regional tensions already running high over Syria's 22-month-old civil war.

Israeli leaders in the days leading up to the air strike had publicly expressed concern that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be losing his grip on the country and its arsenal of conventional and nonconventional weapons.

The Syrian military denied there was any such weapons convoy. It said low-flying Israeli jets crossed into the country over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and bombed a scientific research center.

A U.S. official said the air strike targeted trucks containing sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 antiaircraft missiles. The trucks were next to the military research facility identified by the Syrians, and the strike hit both the trucks and the facility, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the operation.

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