Israel admits air strike on Syria

Other News Materials 3 October 2007 01:53

(BBC) Israel has confirmed that it carried out a strike on a Syrian military installation last month.

Syria accused Israel at the time but Israeli officials refused to comment, and the Israeli military censor imposed a strict blackout on information.

The censor's office has now allowed some details to be released.

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al- Assad told the BBC that a Syrian military construction site was hit in the Israeli air strike on 6 September.

President Assad said the raid demonstrated Israel's "visceral antipathy towards peace" - and that Syria would retaliate.

Syria and Israel are formally at war. Israeli has occupied the Golan Heights since 1967. Peace talks between them collapsed in 2000.

In the early hours of 6 September a number of Israeli jets appeared to enter Syrian airspace from the Mediterranean Sea.

Later, unidentified drop tanks, which may have contained fuel from the planes, were found on Turkish soil near the Syrian border, indicating a possible exit route.

Witnesses said the Israeli jets had been engaged by Syrian air defences in Tall al- Abyad , north of Raqqa and near the border with Turkey.

It is still not known why Israel carried out the strike or what exactly was hit.

On Tuesday, Israeli Army radio reported that Israeli planes had attacked a military target "deep inside Syria", quoting the military censor. No further details were given.

Some US officials have linked the raid to suspicions of secret nuclear co-operation between Damascus and North Korea, suggesting a fledgling research centre may have been the target.

Damascus and North Korea have denied any nuclear ties.

Other reports suggested that the raid may have targeted Iranian arms bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, or materials going in the other direction, to Iran.

Another theory is that it was simply an Israeli test of Syria's improving air defences .

Correspondents say there has been some suggestive leaking from Washington, but that the usual diplomatic sources have been uncharacteristically quiet over the incident.