Israeli airstrike in Syria targets arms convoy: US
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ISABEL KERSHNER & MICHAEL R GORDON
Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Thursday condemned a strike by Israeli warplanes near Damascus, saying they rejected foreign intervention in the country's civil war and offering support in varying degrees for its leader. Iran, Assad's closest regional backer, warned of "grave consequences" after the attack.
US officials said they believed the target of the attack Wednesday was a convoy carrying sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry on the outskirts of Damascus intended for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In a statement, Syrian military denied that a convoy had been struck. It said the attack had hit a scientific research facility in the Damascus suburbs used to improve Syria's defences, and called the attack "a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace".
Reuters reported that Syria also summoned the head of a UN mission in the Golan Heights Thursday to protest against the air raid. Major General Iqbal Singha, head of the UNDOF peacekeeping force, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where the protest was delivered.
According to Fars news agency, Hoseyn Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, said: "Israel's attack on the suburbs of Damascus will lead to grave consequences for Tel Aviv."
He did not detail what he meant, but said Israel should not have confidence in its anti-missile defense system "because this system proved to be useless during" last December's conflict in Gaza, when Palestinians fired rockets that reached outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Russia issued a statement of concern early Thursday, describing the strikes as "an attack by Israel's air force on objects in Syria, near Damascus."
Moscow said it would take immediate steps to clarify what had happened, and reiterated its longstanding insistence on a political solution and "the unacceptability of any kind of external intervention."
In Beirut, Hezbollah also condemned the attack and offered support. "Hezbollah expresses its full solidarity with Syria's leadership, army and people," it said in a statement.
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