UN chief calls for restraint after reported Israeli airstrike on Syria

UN chief calls for restraint after reported Israeli airstrike on Syria
# 01 February 2013 00:55 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday noted with "grave concern" reports of Israeli air strikes in Syria and called on all concerned to prevent an escalation of tensions in the region, APA reports.

Israeli war jets sneaked off radars and hit a Syrian military research center in the capital Damascus at dawn Wednesday, the General Command of the Syrian Military said in a statement.

The UN chief "notes with grave concern reports of Israeli air strikes in Syria," said a note issued here by Ban's office. "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 Syrian military statement said that the attack came after many unsuccessful attempts by the "armed terrorist groups" to capture this site over the past months, hinting that the Israeli air raid played in the hands of the rebels.

Western officials speculated that the airstrike targeted a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry from Syria to Lebanon's Hezbollah. Israeli has been silent on the airstrike.

Syria's Foreign Ministry held the UN Security Council responsible for the results of the aggression, stressing Syria's right in defending itself, its sovereignty and territories in the face of any aggression.

"At this time, the United Nations does not have details of the reported incident. Nor is the United Nations in a position to independently verify what has occurred," Ban said in the note.

Syrian authorities have protested to the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, that Israeli planes had flown over the area of separation.

"UNDOF did not observe any planes flying over the area of separation and therefore was not able to confirm the incident," Eduardo Del Buey, the UN deputy spokesperson, told reporters here. "UNDOF also reported bad weather conditions."

Also on Thursday, Ban welcomed the recent statement by the head of the Syrian opposition coalition, Moaz Al Khatib, indicating that he is willing to talk to representatives of the government.

Along with Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Ban has repeatedly said that the levels of suffering and destruction in Syria are already intolerable.

"They continue to appeal to all to end the violence and resolve the conflict through negotiations and a credible process that would lead to a real change, a clear break from the past, and fulfill the legitimate and democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," the UN chief's office said in a note issued here to the press.

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