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Syrian MP: Israel tried to attack Syria – but failed

Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash tells Arab news network Al Arabiya: Israel's failure to respond to its infiltration of Syrian airspace proves that incident was a failed attack mission. FM al-Moallem: We are prepared to defend ourselves against any attack, but our basic priority is comprehensive peace

Roee Nahmias
Published: 09.09.07, 22:17 / Israel News

While Israel is keeping mum on anything to do with the Israeli Air Force's infiltration of Syrian airspace, officials in Damascus are exploiting the opportunity to make headlines.

 

In an interview with the Dubai-based satellite TV channel Al Arabiya, Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash claimed that Israel launched an attack mission – which failed.

 

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"What happened (on Thursday) was an attempt at an aggressive operation, but the mission failed without a doubt," Habash said. "This is why there are contradictions (in the Israeli statements). If Israel had managed to achieve its goals, it would have been the first to publish the news of the operation."

 

Habash cited the Israeli Air Force's attack on the Iraqi nuclear plant 26 years ago – which had immediate impact in the Israeli media as soon as the planes landed. If Israel had succeeded in attaining its aims this time too, Habash says, the world would certainly know.

 

"If we remember what Israel did the day it bombed the Iraqi nuclear facility – it was the first to announce it," Habash said. "But after the disappointment and failure (in Syria), it is not within Israeli interests to publicize its silly adventure."

 

Habash is generally one of the first parliamentarians sent during times of crisis to speak on the Arab television networks and respond to diplomatic issues.

 

PM: We can't reveal IDF operations

At Sunday's cabinet meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised the IDF for its "courageous" and "unusual" operations, without directly refering to the reported overflights in Syrian airspace or to the capture, according to Palestinian sources, of a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip.

 

"I want to express my appreciation of the security forces's courageous and unusual operations that are aimed at impeding the activities of terror groups," he said.

 

"These are operations whose nature we cannot always reveal to the public, naturally. There were numerous operations that Israel carried out against leaders of terror groups, and these operations will continue without hesitation. Anyone who sends terrorists will be targeted wherever he is," Olmert said.

 

The Syrian government said last week that Israeli aircraft entered Syrian airspace from the Mediterranean Sea before dawn Thursday and jettisoned fuel tanks near the Turkish border as they broke the sound barrier.

 

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem arrived in Ankara for talks with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

 

"We are prepared to defend ourselves against any attack that Israel may plan, but our basic priority is a comprehensive peace," the Anatolia news agency quoted al-Moallem as telling reporters.

 

Associated Press contributed to the report  

 

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