Syria Disputes Airstrike Claims

U.S. Officials told CBS News that the Israeli airstrike into Syria on September 6th was to destroy a building that was believed to have contained nuclear equipment. Syria's Ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, says no building was attacked, and there were no nuclear weapons. "It wasn't an air strike, it was a violation of our airspace," he says.

The Israeli air action came three days after a North Korean ship docked at a Syrian port. Ja'afari says Syria is not engaged in nuclear proliferation with North Korea, or any other country. "Actually, Israel has the nuclear capabilities we don't have," he says.

Ambassador Ja'afari sent two letters to U.N. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon and the security council demanding they investigate Israel's violation of their airspace. But the question remains - if the Israeli jets were not after nuclear equipment, why did they violate Syrian airspace?

"I think the Israelis and some adamant neo-cons in the administration are trying very hard to undermine and torpedo this idea of holding a so-called international conference in the fall of this year," says Ja'afari.

President Bush has proposed an international middle east conference in the United States. On Monday, Israel's president, Shimon Peres, said Israel is ready for direct peace negotiations with Syria.

"They felt what they did was wrong by penetrating and intruding our airspace, so I think they were trying to ease the tension in the area to de-escalate the situation by providing such statements. But, I'm sure they are not honest with these kinds of statements, because the background and the motivations would be political," says Ja'afari.

When the Israeli U.N. Mission was asked to comment, they said, "We are not going to comment on the alleged incident in Syria, and the Israelis will continue not to comment on this issue until further notice."
By Frank Ucciardo