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Syria threatens retaliation for Israeli airstrike

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said the Jewish state will regret the attack.

Syria's Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General stressing the country's "right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty" and holding Israel and its supporters accountable.

"Israel and those who protect it at the Security Council are fully responsible for the repercussions of this aggression," the letter said.

U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday targeting a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.

In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.

The attack has inflamed regional tensions already running high over Syria's 22-month-old civil war. Israeli leaders had publicly expressed concern that Syrian President Bashar Assad may be losing his grip on the country and its arsenal of conventional and nonconventional weapons.

The Syrian military denied there was any such weapons convoy. It said low-flying Israeli jets crossed into the country over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and bombed a scientific research center.

Hezbollah condemned the attack as "barbaric aggression" and said it "expresses full solidarity with Syria's command, army and people." The group did not mention any weapons convoy in its statement but said the strike aimed to prevent Arab and Muslim forces from developing their military capabilities.

In Iran, the country's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said "the Zionist regime will regret its aggression against Syria," Iran state television said.

Russia, Syria's most important international ally, said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

Syria threatens retaliation for Israeli airstrike 01/31/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:31pm]
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