Assad - AP file photo - released 31.7.11
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivering a speech in Damascus, Syria, on June 20, 2011. Photo by AP
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Syria will strike Israel and "set fire" to the Middle East if foreign forces choose to launch a military strike on the protest-ridden country, the Iranian news agency Fars quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying on Tuesday, referring to remarks made by the Syrian leader during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last August.

During a meeting with the Turkish FM, the Fars report claimed, Assad indicated that Syria would not hesitate to strike major Israeli cities if it was attacked.

"If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than 6 hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv," Assad said.

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In addition, Fars reported that the Syrian president told the Turkish FM that he would also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a rocket attack on Israel, adding: "All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. and European interests will be targeted simultaneously."

Assad's comments to the Turkish FM came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier Tuesday he would set out his country's plans for sanctions against Syria after he visits a Syrian refugee camp near the border in the coming days.

The move heralds a further deterioration in previously friendly relations between Ankara and Damascus since the start of Assad's crackdown on protesters.

"Regarding sanctions, we will make an assessment and announce our road map after the visit to Hatay in southern Turkey, setting out the steps," Erdogan told reporters, adding he expected to visit the region at the weekend or the start of next week.

Some 7,000 Syrians have taken refuge in camps established in Hatay, in flight from President Assad's security forces.