Syria will respond to the “Zionist aggression” at the appropriate time which it will decide, the Syrian army’s chief of staff threatened on Thursday night.
According to a report on Channel 2 News, General Ali Abdullah Ayub made the comments as he visited with various field units of the Syrian army. He was referring to the alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian site which may have been involved in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons.
Meanwhile, reported Channel 2, the Syrian government convened a special meeting in Damascus during which its defense minister updated the cabinet about the attack and the damage that was caused to the facility that was hit.
“We will not show weakness in the face of the attempted provocation of our enemies,” Ayub was quoted as having told the Syrian fighters, adding, “We are aware of the dimensions of the challenge with which we are dealing, as well as of our capabilities. We will use those capabilities whenever we decide to do so. As commander of this army, I can say that it was a serious error to test our strength.”
The Syrian chief of staff accused Israel of operating “terrorist groups” in his country and said that “there is a close tie between the Zionists and the gangs responsible for the systematic murder our people.”
He added, “Our struggle with the Zionist enemy continues and will never end, but we have the ability to respond to the schemes it is concocting.”
Earlier on Thursday, Syria and Iran issued threats to retaliate against Israel for its alleged strike on a chemical weapons facility near Damascus.
In Iran, the government-run PressTV quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian Thursday as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.
He called upon United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to take operative steps against Israel following the attack, and suggested to the Israeli leadership "not to place too much trust on the Patriot batteries that are stationed in the area."
Syria's Ambassador in Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, told Hizbullah's al-Ahd news website that Damascus ‘‘has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.’’
He said that he cannot predict when the response will occur, and said that the authorized elements will take care of preparations for it.
Meanwhile, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi quoted unnamed sources in Damascus on Thursday night, who claimed that the alleged Israeli attack did not inflict significant damage to the facility.
The military laboratories in the targeted compound did not sustain damages in the bombing, the sources claimed.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern" over the alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria and called on all parties to “prevent tensions or their escalation in the region.”
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.