DAMASCUS (AFP) -Syria has warned it would respond directly and by all means necessary to any Israeli attack on its territory, in its first official reaction to Israel’s offensive on neighbouring Lebanon.
“Any Israeli attack against Syria will provoke an unlimited, direct and firm response using all means necessary,” Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said Sunday, according to the official SANA news agency.
Damascus-ally Iran also warned arch-enemy Israel of “unimaginable losses” if it attacks Syria and vowed that it was standing by the Syrian people.
“We hope the Zionist regime does not make the mistake of attacking Syria, because extending the front would definitely make the Zionist regime face unimaginable losses,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
Israel said Saturday that Syria was not a target in its offensive, after firing rockets close to the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov warned Saturday of a “real threat” that the Middle East crisis could drag other countries in the region into the conflict, just ahead of a G8 summit of world leaders likely to be dominated by Israel’s military offensives in Lebanon and Gaza.
Syria, which backs the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, was the longtime powerbroker in Lebanon until international pressure and outcry over the assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri forced it to withdraw its troops from Lebanon last year.