Feb 3, 2013 / 7:10 am
Israel's defence minister indicated Sunday that his country was behind an airstrike on Syria that U.S. officials said targeted anti-aircraft weapons bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
It was the first public comment by an Israeli government official on the Wednesday strike.
"I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in Germany at a security conference with top diplomats and defence officials from around the world.
But then he went on to say: "I keep telling frankly that we said â€” and that's proof when we said something we mean it â€” we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon." He spoke in English.
Israeli leaders in recent weeks have expressed a growing concern that Syria's civil war has led to President Bashar Assad losing his grip on the country and on its arsenal, including chemical weapons.
In Syria, Assad said during a meeting with a top Iranian official that his country could confront any aggression, his first comment on the airstrike.
"Syria, with the awareness of its people, the might of its army and its adherence to the path of resistance, is able to face the current challenges and confront any aggression that might target the Syrian people," Assad was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.
He made the remarks during a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator. Iran is Syria's closest regional ally and Jalili, on a three-day visit to Syria, has pledged Tehran's continued support for Assad's regime.
Syria has vowed to retaliate for the airstrike.
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