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Israeli official: We don't expect Syria to retaliate
Assad vowed to respond to any attack on Syrian soil, but Israeli top-brass believe even American leak unlikely to draw Syrian president out. Opposition activist: 'Assad loyalists frustrated about Israel's impunity'

The American leak cleared the fog around the Israeli attack in Latakia, but like in previous attacks alleged to the Israeli Air Force, Jerusalem estimates that a Syrian retaliation is not forthcoming.

 

A senior Israeli official, while declining to confirm any Israeli attack, did not expect Syria to respond: "Assad is disarming (his chemical weapons) out of his own interests. He knows how to make the necessary distinctions," the official told Reuters.

 

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On Thursday a source within the US administration confirmed that it was the IAF that attacked a military base near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, targeting missiles and arms suspected to have been intended for Hezbollah .

 

On Friday, a Latakia activist told Reuters that after the attack on the base in Snobar Jableh, ambulance sirens were heard rushing to the scene. However, the activist, who calls himself Khaled, said there was a "total media blackout" about the incident.

 

Khaled added that Assad loyalists were frustrated about Israel's apparent impunity, recalling that the Syrian president had previously indicated Syria would respond to further attacks.

 

"Yet Israel keeps hitting us and there's no retaliation. So even the staunchest loyalists are getting very upset," he said.

 

'We'll not be drawn out by enemy'

Officially, the Syrian opposition condemned the attack. The National Syrian Coalition, the opposition's umbrella organization, issued a statement reading: "We condemn any attack on Syrian soil. The regime holds full responsibility for the weakening of the Syrian army and the Syrian state."

 

The organization also accused the Assad regime of the attack: "It drags Syria to a bloody conflict and leaves it exposed to gross assaults without daring to respond."

 

According to a report in al-Arabiya on Thursday, the attack targeted SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles. Hezbollah already has missiles of this make, but it aspires to increase its arsenal.

 

Former Syrian intelligence agent Afaq Ahmad, a defector now in exile in France, told Reuters on

Thursday that contacts of his inside Syria, including in Latakia province, told him Russian-made ballistic

missiles were also kept at the site that was attacked.

 

A source which refused to be named estimated that the relatively contained damage on the ground implies a direct missile hit on the target.

 

The editor of the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Akhbar newspaper from Lebanon, Ibrahim al-Amin, tried to answer the question why Syria does not respond, if indeed Israel was behind the attack: "The priorities of the axis in which Syria is a main party, and the Syrian regime's priorities, require not falling into a conflict, the time and place of which are determined by the enemy."

 

Roi Kais contributed to this report

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 11.01.13, 18:17
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