MUNICH (The Washington Post) — An Israeli official on Sunday discussed for the first time an airstrike on Syria last week, hinting that his government had been behind the attack.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not directly claim responsibility for an airstrike that Western officials have said hit a convoy in Syria carrying weapons toward the border with Lebanon. But he said that the international community should take seriously Israel’s assertions that it will protect itself if it feels threatened by the bloody two-year conflict in Syria.
In the days ahead of the strike Israeli officials had repeatedly warned that they would not allow chemical weapons to fall into the hands of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon or to Islamist rebels inside Syria. The Syrian government has said that Israeli jets bombed a defense research center near Damascus.
“That’s proof when we said something we mean it,” Barak said, speaking at a security conference in Munich. “We say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.” But he said that he could not add information to what had already been reported on “what happened in Syria several days ago.”
The attack heightened long-standing fears that the violence in Syria that has claimed more than 60,000 lives could spill over into the rest of the volatile region. Syrian state TV ran images Saturday of damaged vehicles and a building with blown-out windows that it said was the research center.
Syrian state TV said Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad told an Iranian official that his military could “confront any aggression” toward his country, the Associated Press reported.