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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Syria warns Israel of retaliation

By Kim Ghattas
BBC correspondent in Damascus

Syria and Israel are still trading accusations and threats a week after an Israeli strike on a target outside Damascus.

Syrian site of Israeli air strike
Syria's diplomatic protests have made little headway
The attack was the first of its kind in 30 years.

Syria then submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning the strike and calling on the Council to help prevent further Israeli attacks.

But the resolution still does not have the backing of a majority of Council members.

Now Syria has said that if Israel strikes again it will retaliate.

Syria reserves the right to retaliate by all means at its disposal
Boushra Kanafani
Syrian foreign ministry

If Syria comes under renewed Israeli attack there will be retaliation.

This is what Boushra Kanafani, a spokeswoman for the Syrian foreign ministry, said here in Damascus.

She added that her country had the right to use all means at its disposal, to exercise its right to self-defence if it was attacked again.

She did not elaborate on what the means were.

Target dispute

Israeli reaction was quick. An Israeli spokesperson has already said that countries like Syria which support terrorist organisations carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians are legitimate targets.

Israel claims that the target of the Israeli strike on Sunday was a training camp for radical Palestinian militants.

Syria maintains it was a civilian area but it has so far not allowed the media to visit the site.

Asked why Syria had sealed off the area of the strike, Mrs Kanafani simply replied there was no reason to put Syria's credibility under scrutiny.

In other words, if Syria said the target was a civilian site, the world just had to believe it.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, Hezbollah's secretary general, Syyed Hassan Nasrallah, has warned that his guerrilla movement will retaliate if Israel conducts more strikes on Syria and Lebanon.

Hezbollah is backed by Syria and has often been used by Damascus to put pressure on Israel.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"There is the potential for a serious international stand-off"



SEE ALSO:
US set to tighten Syria sanctions
09 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Israel accused of warmongering
07 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Syria seals off air strike site
07 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Analysis: Discreet US warning to Syria
06 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: Syria
15 Sep 03  |  Country profiles


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