Skip to main content

Iran, Syria warn of retribution for Israeli airstrike

By Michael Pearson, CNN
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: United Nations secretary-general expresses "grave concern" about airstrike
  • Iran, Russia and Hezbollah condemn the attack
  • Syrian reports that strike hit research center are wrong, U.S. official says
  • Sources say the airstrike hit a convoy hauling missile parts

(CNN) -- Shouting condemnation and promises of retaliation, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah on Thursday condemned Israel's decision to send warplanes into Syria, calling its airstrike a day before "inhuman" and "barbaric."

Russia also condemned Wednesday's attack, saying it would represent an unprovoked violation of United Nations charter if confirmed.

Syria's Foreign Ministry summoned the commander of U.N. forces in the Golan Heights on Thursday to formally complain about the incident, while Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, warned the attack would have "dire consequences" for Israel, according to Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency.

Just last week, Abdollahian warned that Iran would consider any attack on Syria as an attack on itself, Mehr reported at the time.

Getting aid to Syria
World leaders seek aid for Syrians

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said reports that Israel had struck a Syrian research facility were wrong, instead saying warplanes hit only one target: a convoy carrying surface-to-air missiles.

A source said Wednesday that Israeli fighter jets had struck a Syrian convoy suspected of moving Russian-made missile parts that could have been used to attack Israel. A senior U.S. official said the weapons were bound for the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syria and Iran back the group, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.

World leaders seeks $1.5 billion for afflicted Syrians

However, Syria's military said Wednesday and again Thursday in state-run media that Israel had struck at a defense research facility near the capital of Damascus, killing two workers and injuring five others.

The report in Syrian state media tied the attack to Syria's ongoing rebellion, saying Israel struck the site after repeated attempts by what the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refers to as terrorist groups failed to capture the facility.

Experts say al-Assad's regime is faltering after nearly two years of fending off the persistent rebellion, and a former high-ranking Israeli Intelligence official said Hezbollah probably wants to take hold of all the weapons it can before that happens. Providing Hezbollah with Syrian arms would better equip it to attack Israel, the official said.

In recent years, Syria has transferred to Hezbollah Scud missiles that can carry chemical weapons. U.S. authorities say they do not believe the strike was linked to growing concerns about Syria's chemical weapons, the senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

The attack was not particularly surprising, said senior Brookings Institution fellow Michael O'Hanlon.

"At first glance, it likely won't be seen as a large escalation, though there's still a possibility for retaliation."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the airstrike Wednesday. Carney referred questions to Israel, which also has been tight-lipped about the strike.

Teen refugee: Prince Charming is dead

Syrians seek shelter in ruins
Slain Syrians pulled from river
The long, dark walk to escape Syria

On Thursday, Syria took its case against Israel to Maj. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, the commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights, former Syrian territory seized by Israel in 1967.

Foreign Ministry officials demanded a U.N. response to the incident, which it said violates the U.N. charter and the 1974 agreement between Syria and Israel negotiated after the Yom Kippur War.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office issued a statement Thursday expressing "grave concern" about the incident, but said U.N. officials lacked details about exactly what had happened.

Russia, a Syrian ally, said it also had "grave concern" about Wednesday's airstrike.

"If the information is confirmed, we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets situated on the territory of a sovereign state that grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable whatever motives are used to justify it," the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Iran also backed its close ally. The semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying the attack was "in line with the West's policies of undermining the victories of the Syrian government."

Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim, said Syria reserves the right to a "surprise retaliation" against Israel, according to Hezbollah's official website, Moqawama.

"I cannot predict this, and this depends on the relevant authorities to decide on appropriate retaliation and decide the manner and place," Moqawama quoted him as saying.

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT