DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria accused Israel on Saturday of making excuses for war by spreading what it described as false reports that an Israeli air raid targeted a site linked to weapons of mass destruction.
“They (Israel) are making up things to justify an aggression in the future,” Syrian Deputy President Farouq al-Shara said. “They are playing on public opinion to mislead it,” he added, describing the reports as fabrications.
“Everything reported about this raid is wrong and is part of a psychological warfare that will not fool Syria,” Shara told reporters after meeting his Iraqi counterpart Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Damascus says Israel launched the air raid on September 6, bombing an empty area after air defense systems confronted the aircraft. Some U.S. officials have linked the raid to apparent Israeli suspicions of secret nuclear cooperation between Damascus and North Korea.
Diplomats in Damascus say at least four Israeli warplanes crossed deep into Syria in this month’s operation. They suggest the intended target may have involved missiles supplied by North Korea but played down reports of a nuclear link.
Israel has said nothing about the raid, which Shara said caused no casualties. Damascus and North Korea have denied any nuclear cooperation.
Shara said the raid also was aimed at boosting the morale of the Israeli military, which failed to crush the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, an ally of Syria, in last year’s war.
“They want to rehabilitate the Israeli army after the Lebanese resistance broke it. But what Israel needs is to rehabilitate the Israeli mind, only then will a real opportunity for genuine peace be created,” he said.
Syria and Israel are formally at war. Peace talks between them collapsed in 2000 over the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights, a plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria in 1967.
The United States, Israel’s chief ally, has said it would invite Syria to an international conference in November to try to revive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
Shara said the meeting would not succeed without pressure on Israel to withdraw from all the Arab land it occupied in 1967 in exchange for peace, including the Golan.
“Anything else and the meeting will be worthless,” he said. “We don’t need more photo opportunities.”