Syria, Iran threaten Israel over air strike

Israeli soldiers man an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria near Alonei Habshan in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Nov. 15, 2012. STR/AFP/Getty Images

BEIRUT Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli air strike and its ally Iran said there will be repercussions for the Jewish state over the attack.

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

Syria and Hezbollah, however, say the Israeli strike hit a research center about seven miles north of Damascus. Israel has not confirmed the strike.

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said Damascus "has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation."

In Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.

Hezbollah condemned the attack as "barbaric aggression" and Syrian ally Russia said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line 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 Syrian ambassador said he could not predict when Damascus would retaliate. He told Hezbollah's al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to prepare the retaliation and choose the time and place.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned the air strike on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syria's sovereignty. Iran is Syria's strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided President Bashar Assad's government with military and political backing for years.

Russia, Syria's strongest international ally, said Moscow is taking "urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details."

"If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Whatever the motives, this is not justified."

Hezbollah, closely allied with Syria and Iran, said it "expresses full solidarity with Syria's command, army and people."

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