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      Syrian Official: If Damascus is Attacked, Tel Aviv Will Burn

      A senior official in the Syrian army warns the West: waging a war on Syria will be reciprocated with an attack on Tel Aviv.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 8/28/2013, 3:13 AM

      Syrian Army soldier in Aleppo
      Syrian Army soldier in Aleppo
      Reuters

      A senior official in the Syrian army warned the United States and its partners on Tuesday that waging a full-scale war on Syria would be reciprocated with an immediate attack on Tel Aviv.

      "If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a license for attacking Israel," the Syrian army source told the Iranian Fars news agency.

      "Rest assured that if Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria's neighbors," he added.

      The source also warned the U.S. and other Western states that if Syria grows weak, certain irresponsible groups will be formed which will endanger Israel's security.

      "Therefore, weakening the central government in Damascus will actually start growing attacks on Israel and will create insecurity for that regime," he claimed.

      "Thus, a U.S. attack on Syria will herald frequent strikes and attacks on Israel, not just by Damascus and its allies in retaliation, but by extremist groups who will find a ground for staging their aspirations," he concluded.

      The comments come amid growing speculations that U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western countries are planning to respond in some form to a deadly chemical attack in Syria last week, which killed hundreds.

      Senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday that the United States may launch strikes against the Syrian regime “as early as Thursday.”

      Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem vowed on Tuesday that his country will defend itself in case of any Western military strikes against it.

      "We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves," Muallem said in a televised news conference.

      Muallem's warning follows a threat by a top Syrian official if his country was attacked by western states it would react by attacking Israel.

      Speaking to an Arabic-language radio station, Syria's Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah said that Israel would face a coalition consisting of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in the event of any attack against Assad. In addition, terrorist groups in Syria and Lebanon would attack Israel with full force, he warned.

      Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that Israel will strike back “fiercely” if Syria attacks it.