Erdogan flays Israel over Syria raid

February 04, 2013 - 12:00:00 am

ISTANBUL/MUNICH: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel yesterday of waging “state terrorism” as he condemned the air strike on Syria as an unacceptable violation of international law.

“Those who have been treating Israel like a spoilt child should expect anything from them, at any time,” said Erdogan, a harsh critic of the Jewish state.

“As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of waging state terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and where it might do it,” he said.

Erdogan was speaking after Israel’s outgoing Defence Minister Ehud Barak implicitly confirmed that it had staged Wednesday’s bombing raid which Damascus said targeted a military complex near the capital.

“We cannot regard a violation of air space as acceptable. What Israel does is completely against international law... it is beyond condemnation,” Erdogan said.

“I am worried that in a situation like this, any scenario can play out in the future.”

He said Israel was using claims about weapons being moved into Lebanon to justify its action as “an excuse.” Wednesday’s air strike targeted surface-to-air missiles and an adjacent military complex believed to house chemical agents, according to a US official.

Barak told a security conference in Munich: “I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago. But I keep telling frankly that we said, and 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.”

Until Barak’s comment, Israel had maintained silence over the attack, as it did in 2007 when it bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site — an attack that passed without Syrian military retaliation.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon warned on Thursday that his county could take “a surprise decision to respond”, but gave no details. Damascus protested to the United Nations, saying it considered the raid a violation of a 1974 military disengagement agreement which followed the last major Israeli-Syrian war.

In his first reported response to the attack, President Bashar Al Assad accused Israel yesterday of seeking to destabilise Syria and said Damascus was able to confront “current threats ... and aggression” against it.

Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran’s National Security Council secretary, who pledged Tehran’s “full support for the Syrian people ... facing the Zionist aggression, and its continued coordination to confront the conspiracies and foreign projects”.

On the ground, at least 15 people, including five children and a woman, were killed in a missile attack by the army on a rebel-held area of the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In a related development, Israel intends to declare a buffer zone inside the Syrian border to prevent radical groups from getting too close to its territory when the embattled Damascus regime topples, security sources said. “There’s a plan in the military’s northern command for the ‘day after’ according to which, when Bashar Assad is no longer president of Syria, there’s a fear that terror elements will try to approach the fence,” the sources said.