Hillary Clinton Says She Supports 'Apparent' IAF Action in Syria

U.S. Democratic presidential candidates deflect questions on whether Israel would be justified in attacking a nuclear Iran.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday evening that she supports what she said was the Israel Air Force's "apparent" action against a nuclear facility in Syria.

Clinton spoke during a televised debate for the leading candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president.

The candidates largely evaded questions on the incident, on which foreign media has speculated but Israel remains quiet. The moderator of the debate, Tim Russert of NBC, raised the issue of Syria when asking whether the candidates would support an Israeli strike on Iran, should it acquire nuclear capabilities.

Clinton called the question "hypothetical," and told Russert, "That's better not addressed at this time," despite Russert's repeated attempts to extract an answer on whether a nuclear Iran would warrant an Israeli attack.

However, she went on to say, "We don't have as much information as we wish we did. But what we think we know is that with North Korean help, both financial and technical and material, the Syrians apparently were putting together, and perhaps over some period of years, a nuclear facility, and the Israelis took it out. I strongly support that."

The senator from New York also backed up reports, first exposed by The Washington Post two weeks ago, that that the IAF targeted a North Korean shipment of nuclear material that arrived in Syria three days before the strike.

"There was evidence of a North Korea freighter coming in with supplies. There was intelligence and other kinds of verification," Clinton said.

She went on to emphasize that she had no other information on the incident because of its "highly classified" nature.

Obama and Edwards were less forthcoming in their responses. On Syria, Obama said only, "We don't know exactly what happened." He said that the United States is a "stalwart ally of Israel," but added only that diplomatic means must be pursued to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability. Edwards did not mention Israel, but spoke vehemently against authorizing U.S. President Bush to pursue nuclear action in Iran.