Netanyahu: Israel not planning military action against Syria
Assad aide: Israeli allegations of a Syrian Scud shipment to Hezbollah undermining Syria-U.S. ties.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Israel is not planning military action against Syria, despite rumors to the contrary.
"There is no truth to the suggestion that Israel is planning a military move against Syria," Netanyahu said at the Likud party meeting, adding that the rumors were likely spread by Iran and Hezbollah as an attempt to distract the international community from the bid to impose sanctions on Iran.
"Iran is continuing its race to attain nuclear weapons," the prime minister said. "The international community is formulating an agreement to impose sanctions against Iran, but I don't see it happening in the coming month."
Earlier this month, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel was preparing a military strike against Syria by accusing Damascus of supplying Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon with long-range Scud missiles.
"Israel aims from this to raise tension further in the region and to create an atmosphere for probable Israeli aggression," the statement said, adding that "the Syrian Arab Republic denies these fabrications."
Netanyahu added that he hoped sanctions against oil exports would be implemented, as they would "create a real problem for the Iranian regime and force it to rethink whether it wants to continue developing its nuclear program."
Netanyahu also said he believes the United Nations Security Council will not approve sanctions in their current formula, but said, "the U.S. is capable of doing it [passing sanctions] in an effective manner outside of the UN, and I am convinced that major other countries will join them."
Meanwhile, a top Syrian official said earlier Monday accused Israel of trying to undermine Syria's ties with the United States by claiming that Damascus is supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles.
Presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban said "the missiles are too big to be moved undetected in a tiny country like Lebanon where Israeli reconnaissance planes fly overhead on daily basis."
In an article published Monday in the daily Tishrin, Shaaban described the allegations as "ridiculous."
Syria has denied the charges, as has Lebanon's Western-backed prime minister.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said the Obama administration is still committed to improving ties with Syria despite its deeply troubling moves to aid Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group.
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