Assad: Syria won't attend fall summit if issue of Golan not addressed
Syrian President says his country reserves the right to respond to last month's alleged IAF strike on its soil.
Syrian President Bashar Assad told the BBC in an interview published Monday that his country would refuse to attend the regional peace summit schedule to take place in the United States next month unless all of its concerns are addressed. Assad was referring to the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
"So far we didn't have the invitation and we didn't have any clarification about anything," Assad said. "If they don't talk about the Syrian occupied territory, no, there's no way for Syria to go there.
The Syrian president also told the BBC that Syria reserves the right to respond to the Israel Air Force's alleged attack last month inside its territory.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem called the alleged strike "the latest act of Israeli aggression against Syria," and told the United Nations General Assembly it was "proof of Israel's desire to escalate tension."
"Some sources in the United States have spread rumors and fabricated news in order to justify this act of aggression," Moallem said. "By distorting the facts they have become Israel's accomplices."
Damascus has previously said the raid hit an empty area, causing no casualties, after air defense systems confronted the aircraft.
"The failure of the international community, including the (UN) Security Council, to condemn this act of aggression would encourage Israel to persist in this hostile pursuit, and lead to an exacerbation of tensions in the region," Moallem said.
Syria denied Sunday that military activity is taking place at the Dir al-Zur research farm, which was the target of the alleged IAF bombing raid in Syria about a month ago, according to a report last week in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
The denial came in the form of a Syrian television broadcast that showed pictures of civilian agricultural research taking place at the site under the auspices of the Arab League.
In addition, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) published a statement by the research center denying that Israel had ever bombed the site.
The Syrian disclaimers were a response to the Yedioth article, in which the paper's military analyst, Ron Ben Yishai, suggested that Dir al-Zur had been the target of the Israeli raid.
The article, which SANA termed "a mixture of imagination and a pack of lies," also included a photograph of Ben Yishai posed against the background of a sign from the research farm.
There has thus far been no Israeli or international confirmation of Yedioth's claim.
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