CNN: Israeli gov't 'very happy with success' of IAF strike on Syria
Syria lodges complaint with UN, denies ground troops involved in strike; CNN: Iran-Hezbollah arms flow possible target.
The CNN television network reported Tuesday that Israel is happy with the results of an alleged Israel Air Force strike last week in Syrian territory.
Quoting sources in the United States and the region, CNN said, "The Israeli government is very happy with the success of the operation."
European diplomats quoted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem as saying Monday that the IAF warplanes that violated Syria's airspace fired missiles at targets on the ground, but did not cause any damage.
According to the CNN report, the sources said the IAF indeed carried out a strike on a target in Syria, adding that the operation "may have also involved Israeli ground forces who directed the air strike."
CNN quoted the sources as saying the strike, which possibly targeted an arms transfer from Iran to Hezbollah through Syria, "left a big hole in the desert."
The CNN report said U.S. government and military sources have confirmed the airstrike, and said that "they are happy to have Israel carry the message to both Syria and Iran that they can get in and out and strike when necessary."
Also Tuesday, Syria lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations about an "aggression and violation of sovereignty" over the incident, the country's ambassador to the UN said Tuesday.
Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, said Damascus made its complaint in two letters to the UN secretary general and the president of the Security Council. The letters said the IAF action was in violation of the 1974 disengagement agreement that was reached after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Al-Jaafari also denied that Israel had landed troops on the ground inside Syria. "This is absolutely not true," he said, adding the reports were an attempt to show that Israel could land troops wherever it wants.
"Israel is seeking military escalation. We are exerting efforts so that we don't fall into this trap. We are dealing with the matter with utmost keenness, precision and responsibility," he added.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, China's Xinhua news agency said North Korea had issued a harsh condemnation of the IAF incursion into Syrian airspace.
According to the report, the Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry as saying, "This is a very dangerous provocation little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security."
"The DPRK strongly denounces the above-said intrusion and extends full support and solidarity to the Syrian people in their just cause to defend the national security and the regional peace," the spokesman reportedly added.
European diplomats who met with Moallem on Sunday in Damascus quoted him as saying that Israel's decision not to comment on the incident was appropriate, given the circumstances. Moallem reportedly told the Europeans that he expected Israel to apologize "through the usual channels."
In Ankara for an official visit, Moallem went on to reveal the details of the alleged strike, which according to him resulted in no casualties or damage to property. Moallem said that three Israeli planes fired four missiles at targets on the ground in the Dayr al-Zur district in eastern Syria, after entering Syrian airspace from the Mediterranean.
The Syrian foreign minister said the Syrian anti-aircraft radar system detected the planes when they were deep inside Syrian territory. He added the planes released their missiles very shortly after they were detected.
Despite the apparent outrage in Damascus over the incident, European diplomats who met with Moallem told Haaretz that they had received the impression that Syria would not retaliate militarily.
"Moallem did not demand the European Union to condemn the Israeli action, nor did he indicate that Syria would demand the United Nations Security Council hold a discussion on the matter," one European diplomat told Haaretz. "We got the impression that Syria is not interested in seeing this incident escalate."
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