(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad said on Sunday that the latest Israeli attacks inside his country amounted to a “declaration of war.”
The Syrian official maintained that Israel is now in cahoots with “Islamic terrorists” trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel would not confirm or deny that it launched air strikes around Damascus on Sunday in an attempt to destroy Iranian-made missiles headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
According to the Syrian government, the Israelis destroyed a military research facility, which resulted in unspecified casualties.
Mekdad said that his government would respond to the attack by Israel in time.
Sunday’s Israeli operation was the second in three days. Last Friday, Israeli warplanes targeted weapons inside Syria that were bound for Hezbollah, American officials said.
As is generally the case, Israel would not comment directly on its operations outside the country although an Israeli defense source said, “We will do whatever is necessary to stop the transfer of weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. We have done it in the past, and we will do it if necessary in the future.”
Last January, Israeli warplanes are believed to have targeted a convoy in Syria carrying Russian-made SA-17 surface-to-air missiles, which were also said to be bound for Hezbollah.
Several days later, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “That is another proof that when we say something we mean it. We say that we don’t think it should be allowable to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers are pushing the White House to take action against al-Assad’s regime, including Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who told Fox News Sunday, “We need to have a game-changing action and that is no American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone, and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people.”
President Obama has been in discussions with his national security team about possible options to deal with the escalating conflict in Syria, although no decision has been announced.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Steve Almasy, CNN
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Marisa Russell, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN