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      UN Chief Concerned Over Alleged Israeli Airstrike

      UN chief Ban Ki-moon expresses "grave concern" over an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria, calls all parties to “prevent tensions.”
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/1/2013, 4:14 AM

      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
      Reuters

      UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed "grave concern" over an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria and called on all parties to “prevent tensions or their escalation in the region,” AFP reports.

      He called on all sides to "strictly abide by international law, in particular in respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region," deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said.

      Damascus's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, stressed Syria's right to respond to what he termed "the Zionist aggression."

      "The Israelis, and the United States behind them, along with their Arab and regional accomplices, realize that Syria, which defends its sovereignty and territory, may decide to respond by surprise to this aggression," Ali said, according to AFP.

      "It is up to the competent powers to choose the appropriate answer, and to determine the means and the place," Ali added in remarks to Lebanese website Al-Ahad, which is close to the Hizbullah terror group.

      Iran also threatened Israel over the alleged airstrike on Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned, without elaborating, that the "Zionist regime's attack on the outskirts of Damascus will have grave consequences for Tel Aviv," the ISNA news agency reported.

      In the past, Tehran has said any Israeli attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran.

      Russia's foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned" but was still trying to verify Syria's allegations.

      "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification," it said, according to AFP.

      On Wednesday, the Syrian army accused Israel of launching a strike on a military research center at Jamraya, near Damascus. Syrian rebels disputed the claim, taking responsibility for the attack.

      Israel has remained silent about the attack, but the U.S. broke its silence overnight Wednesday, with American officials saying that Jerusalem had informed Washington about the attack.

      Israel told U.S. officials it had launched an air strike on a convoy carrying Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to Hizbullah terrorist bases along the border with Lebanon, according to reports in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

      The Iraqi newspaper Azzaman that appears in London reported on Thursday that the site allegedly attacked by Israel in Syria manufactured chemical and biological weapons.

      The newspaper quoted Western diplomats who are close to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It says that the classified installation, which is located just 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the presidential palace, was guarded by a large contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, many of whom died in the attack.