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Syria warns Israel of retaliation

world Updated: May 07, 2013 01:45 IST
Syrian government

The Syrian government said that Israeli air strikes against military targets around Damascus amounted to a "declaration of war" and threatened retaliation, in the latest sign that the
fighting is spilling across the Syrian border and risks sparking a wider regional conflict.

However Israel sought to avoid a direct confrontation with the Syrian regime on Monday by stressing that air strikes were intended to prevent weapons reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon rather than further destabilise the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Amid a cautious consensus that the bombing raids were unlikely to provoke an immediate response from Syria, or its allies Hezbollah and Iran, an Israeli politician close to the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the action was "against Hezbollah and not against the Syrian regime".

After the attack, Israel deployed two batteries of Iron Dome anti-ballistic missiles, designed to intercept incoming enemy missiles to the north of the country.

The Iranian army's ground forces commander, Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, said Iran was ready to train the Syrian army if necessary, something Israeli and western officials say has been going on for some time.

The Damascus regime's deputy foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, told CNN the Israeli air strikes at the weekend represented "a declaration of war" and betokened an alliance between Islamist terrorists and Israel.