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The Battle for Syria

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Russia Denounces 'Unprovoked Attacks' Allegedly by Israel on Syria Targets

January 31st 2013

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Russia expressed concern over a January 30 aistrike, presumably carried out by Israeli air forces inside Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry says such action, if confirmed, amounts to "unprovoked attacks" against a sovereign nation, in violation of the United Nations charter.

Russia's foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned" by the Syrian claims and that it was taking "urgent measures" to investigate. The strident statement said, "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification." 

Differing accounts of the January 30 airstrike have emerged, with Syrian authorities saying Israeli jets fired on a military research facility near Damascus, killing two people.
Israeli and Western news media reported an Israeli airstrike at a different location, close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. They say the target was a convoy delivering missile parts to Hezbollah, the strongly anti-Israel Shi'ite militia based in Lebanon.

Hezbollah condemned the attack in a statement on January 31 and expressed its "full solidarity" with Syria, condemning what it termed Israel's "barbaric aggression."

Syrian army sources said the air strike, which took place early on January 30, had zeroed in on a “scientific research center” near Damascus, even while local residents told AFP news services that it was a non-conventional weapons research centre. According to the New York Times, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said the U.S. government had been notified of the strike by Israel, and believed the target was a convoy carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft weaponry near Damascus that was intended for Hezbollah. The Syrian military said that the strike followed months of "botched attempts" to seize control of the facility by "terrorist groups" - the Islamist rebels seeking to end the reign of President Bashar al-Assad. The Israeli pilots are said to have flown into Syria at low altitude, to evade detection.

The conflicting reports could not be resolved or independently confirmed by early January 31 and it remains unclear whether one or two separate strikes occurred.  Israel routinely declines to acknowledge preemptive military actions and refused all comment on January 30. In recent weeks, Israeli officials have warned that they will not tolerate any transfer of Syrian weapons to militants such as Hezbollah.

The former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Amnon Sofin, says Israel's greatest concern is that Syrian chemical weapons could come under control of Hezbollah militants dug in along the Lebanese border. Sofin told reporters on January 30 that Hezbollah already has rockets and launchers and there are fears that such missiles could be fitted to carry chemical warheads.

Speaking an army radio station, Israeli parliamentarian Tzahi HaNegbi of the Likud party said of the attack, “The best thing that Israel has been hoping for for a long time is that the West will take control of these weapons." He added, "But the world is not ready to take such a decision as it did in Libya or Iraq, so Israel finds itself facing a dilemma which we alone can resolve.” Speaking to the reasoning behind the bombing raid allegedly carried out by Israel, HaNegbi said, “Israel has always said that if sophisticated weapons coming from Iran, North Korea and Russia fell into the hands of Hezbollah, it would cross a red line.”

Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com

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