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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned the airstrike on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syrian sovereignty. Iran is Syria’s strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided Assad’s government with military and political backing for years.
Russia, Syria’s most important international ally, said this appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation. Moscow said it was taking urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details.
"If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Whatever the motives, this is not justified."
Incoming Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said pinpoint strikes are not enough to counter the threat of Hezbollah obtaining sophisticated weaponry from Syria.
"Israel’s preference would be if a Western entity would control these weapons systems," Hanegbi said. "But because it appears the world is not prepared to do what was done in Libya or other places, then Israel finds itself like it has many times in the past facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to," he added.
He was referring to NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya that helped oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
"Even if there are reports about pinpoint operations, these are not significant solutions to the threat itself because we are talking about very substantial capabilities that could reach Hezbollah," he said.
Syria’s civil war has sapped Assad’s power and threatens to deprive Hezbollah of a key supporter, in addition to its land corridor to Iran. The two countries provide Hezbollah with the bulk of its funding and arms.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu warned of the dangers of Syria’s "deadly weapons," saying the country is "increasingly coming apart."
The same day, Israel moved a battery of its new "Iron Dome" rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 war. The Israeli army called that move "routine."
The Israeli army won’t say whether Iron Dome was sent north in connection to this operation. It does note that it has deployed the system in the north before.
A U.N. diplomat confirmed that the organization received a letter from the Syrian ambassador but said it did not contain a request for a Security Council meeting.
A U.N. statement said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern over reports of Israeli airstrikes on Syria but said the U.N. does not have details of the reported incident and cannot independently verify what happened.
"The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation in the region, and to strictly abide by international law, in particular in respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region," the statement said.
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