Spokesman for Tehran’s foreign ministry questions timing of Israeli airstrikes just as Assad’s forces ‘have the upper hand’ against rebels
Times of Israel
Iran on Saturday denounced Israeli “aggression” over its airstrikes in Syria early Friday, and claimed Jerusalem’s interests were aligned with those of Syrian “terrorists.”
According to a report on Iran’s Press TV news channel, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi questioned the timing of the Israeli operation “at a time when [Syria’s] army and the anti-terror front have the upper hand against bloodthirsty terrorists, driving them back from cities and villages one after another.”
This, he said, proved that Israel shared interests with those of rebel groups, which Iran and Syria refer to as terrorists.
Qassemi called on the UN to condemn Israel’s “aggression” and to prevent further “acts of violation of peace and security by the aggressive and rogue Zionist regime.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the Israeli strikes on several targets in Syria early that day targeted weapons bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and that the Jewish State would do the same again if necessary.
The Israeli airstrike prompted retaliatory missile launches, in the most serious incident between Syria and the Jewish state since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.
Syria’s military said it had downed an Israeli plane and hit another as they were carrying out pre-dawn strikes near the desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.
The Israeli military denied that any planes had been hit. The Syrian government has made similar unfounded claims in the past.
Netanyahu said in footage aired on Israel’s major television networks: “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it.
“That’s how it was yesterday and that’s how we shall continue to act,” he added.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two letters to the UN secretary-general and to the director of the UN Security Council calling the strikes a violation of international law, of UN resolutions and of Syrian sovereignty.
Syria called on the UN to “condemn the blatant Israeli aggression that is considered a violation of international law.”
Israel has been largely unaffected by the Syrian civil war raging next door, suffering mostly sporadic incidents of spillover fire that Israel has generally dismissed as tactical errors by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. Israel has responded to the errant fire with limited reprisals on Syrian positions.
The skies over Syria are now crowded, with Russian and Syrian aircraft backing Assad’s forces and a US-led coalition striking Islamic State and al-Qaeda targets.
Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations.