Syria has threatened to retaliate over what it says was an Israeli air raid, as President Bashar al-Assad’s allies rushed to denounce the strike that threatened to take the conflict beyond Syria’s borders.
Israel maintained a stony silence over Syria’s claims, as well as over separate reports that its jets had struck a weapons convoy near the Lebanon border.
Syria’s foreign ministry said Israel ‘‘and the states that protect it’’ are responsible for the air strike, and ‘‘affirms Syria’s right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty’’, state news agency SANA reported.
It called on ‘‘all the competent UN bodies to take the necessary steps given this grave Israeli violation, and to guarantee that it will not happen again’’.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is gravely concerned about reports of the air strike on Syria but cannot independently verify what happened, a spokesman said.
Mr Ban noted the reported strike with ‘‘grave concern’’, said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey. ‘‘The secretary-general calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation in the region.’’
However, Damascus’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, stressed Syria’s right to respond to ‘‘the Zionist aggression’’.
‘‘The Israelis, and the United States behind them, along with their Arab and regional accomplices, realise that Syria, which defends its sovereignty and territory, may decide to respond by surprise to this aggression.’’
‘‘It is up to the competent powers to choose the appropriate answer, and to determine the means and the place,’’ Mr Ali added in remarks to Lebanese website al-Ahad, which is close to the powerful Shiite party Hezbollah.
Reaction from close Damascus ally Iran was strident, with Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warning of severe fallout.
Without elaborating, he said the ‘‘Zionist regime’s attack on the outskirts of Damascus will have grave consequences for Tel Aviv’’, in remarks reported by the ISNA news agency.
In the past, Iran has said any Israeli attack on Syria would be considered an attack on the Islamic republic.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it was ‘‘deeply concerned’’ but was still trying to verify the Syrian 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.
Amid speculation a convoy might have been en route to supply Hezbollah, the White House warned Syria not to do so.
While not confirming the targets of the Israeli raid, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said that might ‘‘further destabilise the region’’.
Meanwhile, the White House said US Vice-President Joe Biden will discuss the carnage in Syria in Munich tomorrow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib.