Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday accused Israel of trying to destabilize his country after an alleged attack last Wednesday on a military research center in Jamraya, northwest of Damascus.
Assad was speaking during a meeting with, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the SANA news agency reported. He also stressed that Syria is capable of facing the current challenges and can confront any aggression targeting the Syrian people.
Jalili responded that the Zionist regime had committed an act of folly by attacking the research center. “The attack exposes the aggressive nature of the Israeli regime and its threat to regional security and stability,” he said, according to news reports.
Iran, Syria’s strongest ally in the region, has already issued a warning that it considers any attack on Syria an attack on the Islamic republic. Iran has long been accused of providing arms and funds that enable the Syrian regime to suppress protest movements and fight against rebels groups.
Also on Sunday, Israeli Defense Ministertold those gathered at the Munich Security Conference that he believed weapons from Syria had been heading for in Lebanon.
“I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago,” he told the conference. But he added, “It is proof when we said something we mean it … we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”
To date, Israel has declined to comment officially on the attack. But military sources have acknowledged that Israel did indeed attack the convoy. They claim that the convoy was preparing to transfer Russian-made SA-17 rocket launchers and Scud ballistic missiles to Hezbollah. Additional Israeli reports claimed that the trucks were loaded with SS-N-26 anti-ship cruise missiles.
Further, during an interview with Israeli army radio, Tzahi HaNegbir, of the Israeli Likud party, spoke in more general terms about concerns of high-tech weapons reaching Hezbollah.
HaNegbir said that Israel’s position has always been that “if sophisticated weapons coming from Iran, North Korea and Russia fell into the hands of Hezbollah, it would cross a red line.” HaNegbir added, “Israel cannot accept that advanced weapons fall into the hands of terrorist organizations.”
Meanwhile, SANA released images of the alleged damage caused by the Israeli strikes. Footage broadcast by Al-Ikhbariya and Syrian state TV showed destroyed cars, trucks and military vehicles, as well as a damaged building with broken windows.
Palestinian sources also said that one Palestinian had been killed and two others injured in an additional bombing in Damascus. Reports said that an explosive device, planted under a vehicle, had detonated near the Yarmouk refugee camp. The report also said that eight other Palestinians were kidnapped from refugee camps by the Syrian regime forces.
It was also reported that two more Palestinians were killed early Sunday morning, also in the Yarmouk refugee camp, when a number of shells landed there. Four others were wounded. And later on Sunday, three Palestinians, including a woman, were killed by sniper fire in the Husaynieyah refugee camp.
No one can confirm the authenticity of the images released by the Syrian media yesterday and today, and the question remains: Why did these images not appear immediately after the bombing?
Even though we are sure a bombing took place, it is still unclear what the actual target was, and we know that the Syria regime is excellent at falsifying facts.
Sunday’s speech by the Israeli defense minister, however, implicitly confirms Israel's responsibility for bombing targets inside Syria. Israel has warned on previous occasions that it would take military action if Syria's chemical weapons fell into the wrong hands or were transferred to Hezbollah.
Now the visit by Iranian officials leaves little doubts about the presence of Iranian military leaders in Syria, and it is becoming clear that there is some kind of coordination for taking military action against Israel.
If Assad responds to Israel's bombing, I think it will be as an attempt to get out of the crisis in his own country, which has been ongoing for more than 22 months.
This seems even more certain after the Syrian opposition expressed the possibility of conditioned dialogue with the regime in an attempt to end the crisis.
Despite that, the situation on the ground is still heating up and all indicators suggest that the West and the Arabs will not allow for outside militarily intervention. Instead, the Syrian people will continue their armed resistance and work to overthrow the regime before it can commit more crimes against civilians and drag the country into a war with Israel, which no one can predict the consequences.