U.S. President Barack Obama said that Israel has the right to guard against the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah a day after and alleged Israeli strike on a Hezbollah-bound missile shipment in Syria.
Obama, in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo as part of a three-day Latin America tour that ended in Costa Rica, would not comment on whether the strikes had in fact taken place.
"I'll let the Israeli government confirm or deny whatever strikes that they've taken," he said.
But Obama, who visited Israel in March, made clear such strikes would be justified.
"What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We coordinate closely with the Israelis recognizing they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon," he said.
Obama's government is seeking to determine whether Syria used chemical weapons against its own people to quash a rebellion.
He said on Friday he does not envision sending U.S. troops to Syria regardless of whether chemical weapons use is determined but he has a number of other options under review.
American officials say the alleged Israeli strike on Syria targeted Iranian missiles that Israel thought were headed for Hezbollah, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
A batch of surface-to-surface Fateh-110 missiles were being stored at a Damascus airport when they were struck in the attack, a U.S. official told the newspaper.
The Fateh-110 is a medium-range missile capable of hitting targets at a range of up to 300 kilometers.
According to a Syrian opposition website, a senior source in the Syrian Ministry of Transport claims that the target of the alleged Israeli attack was an airport, where aircraft fuel tanks, Syrian army ammunition storerooms, the army's runway and a civilian cargo plane that had arrived from Iran to Damascus were destroyed.
Syria denied that any aerial strike took place of its territory. Syrian Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi gave the first official response to reports of the alleged strike on Saturday. "There were many reports on this issue over the past two days," he said. "A comprehensive investigation has begun and in the meantime there are no results, once there are results we will report these in full transparency, but whoever thinks they will turn us into a shadow of our former selves and damage Syria 'knock out style' we will tell them that they are imagining things that won't happen."
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