Report: Assad says Syria capable of facing Israel
Syria's President Bashar Assad said the recent raids reveal the extent of Israel's involvement in the crisis tearing his country apart, according to Lebanese media.
In his first comments since the alleged Israeli air raids struck Syria last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Syria's army is capable of facing Israel, branding the attacks as acts of terrorism, according to a report in the Lebanon's Daily Star.
"The Syrian people and its army who have made important achievements by fighting terrorist and Takfiri groups are capable of confronting Israel's ventures that represent one of the many faces of terrorism targeting Syria today,” Assad was quoted as saying during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
The remarks were carried by Syrian TV, the Daily Star said.
Assad further claimed that the strikes reveal how involved Israel is in the civil war tearing his country apart, according to the report.
"The Israeli aggression on Syria reveals the extent of Israel and other regional and Western states' involvement in ongoing events in Syria," he said.
Last week, foreign media reported that Israel carried out two strikes inside Syria on shipments of Iranian Fateh-110 missiles believed to be headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon. After the second alleged strike early Sunday, Syria's deputy foreign minister told CNN the strike was "a declaration of war."
Earlier Tuesday, after several days of silence from Ankara, Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan levied public criticism of Israel's alleged attacks, claiming they only bolster Assad's regime.
"The air strike Israel carried out on Damascus is completely unacceptable. There is no rationale, no pretext that can excuse this operation," Erdogan said at a conference of his AKP Party in the Turkish Parliament.
He went on to say it provides "opportunities offered on a golden tray to Assad and to the illegitimate Syrian regime," covering up massacres he is waging against his people by using the Israeli raids as a pretext.
Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for a Palestinian militant group in Syria said that it had received a nod from Assad's regime to attack Israel.
Anwar Raja of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said the regime has given "a green light" for the group "to attack Israeli targets" from the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan Heights.
A senior member of the group told Haaretz, however, that the green light given by Assad was not intended to spark an escalation on the Golan Heights front, but was rather an expression of the Syrian leadership's support for the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States and Russia share interests in Syria, including promoting regional stability and preventing the spread of extremism. He expressed hope that the two countries would be able to find "common ground" on the issue.