DAMASCUS, Syria, (AP) – Syria denied Wednesday that one of its representatives to the United Nations told a panel that an Israeli airstrike hit a Syrian nuclear facility and added that “such facilities do not exist in Syria.”
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quoting an unnamed Foreign Ministry source, said that Syria had made it clear in the past that there are no such facilities in Syria. It said the U.N. release misquoted the Syrian diplomat, who was not named.
A U.N. document released by the press office provided an account of a meeting Tuesday of the First Committee, Disarmament and International Security, in New York, and paraphrased an unnamed Syrian representative as saying that a nuclear facility was hit.
The U.N. document, which summarized minutes of the meeting but was not an official record, paraphrased the Syrian representative as saying “Israel was the fourth largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations’ airspace, and it had taken action against nuclear facilities, including the 6 July attack in Syria.”
Israeli warplanes carried out an airstrike in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey on Sept. 6, not July 6. The target remains unknown but widespread reports say it may have been a nascent nuclear facility, a claim Syria has denied.
Israeli radio stations, citing unidentified Israeli diplomats, on Wednesday quoted the Syrians as telling the U.N. meeting that a nuclear target had been struck. However, the Israeli radio reports did not say whether the Israeli diplomats had attended the session or merely had read the U.N. press release on the meeting.
President Bashar Assad said earlier this month that the target was an “unused military building.”
In its report Wednesday, the Syrian news agency said: “A Foreign Ministry official source denies reports by some media organizations,” that the representative in New York said Israel carried a raid on a nuclear facility.
“Such facilities do not exist in Syria and this is what Syria has already explicitly clarified,” SANA said.
U.N. officials in New York could not immediately be reached for comment on whether its press release had accurately paraphrased the Syrian official.