Turkey’s foreign minister blasted embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday for not responding to an alleged Israeli strike on targets in Syria.
On his way to Munich, where he will meet with world leaders to discuss developments in Syria, Ahmet Davutoglu asked reporters, ”Why didn’t Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?”
Davutoglu suggested that the Syrian leader is conspiring with Israel: “Is there a secret agreement between Assad and Israel? The Assad regime only abuses. Why don’t you use the same power that you use against defenseless women against Israel, which you have seen as an enemy since its foundation,” he said, according to The Hurriyet news agency.
The foreign minister said that Turkey will not stand by as Israel attacks a Muslim country.
“Syria must do what a country under attack has to do,” Today’s Zaman quoted Davutoglu as saying, seemingly goading the Assad regime to retaliate.
Media outlets throughout the world have reported that the Israeli Air Force carried out several strikes against targets in Syria overnight Tuesday. Israel has made no official comment.
Among the reported targets was a convoy presumably carrying advanced weapons — including SA-17 missiles — to the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as a so-called research facility, where non-conventional weapons were reportedly stationed.
A report in TIME magazine on Friday claimed that Israeli jets also struck at a biological weapons research center.
The US government has given the “green light” for Israeli to conduct further similar strikes, according to the report.
Also on Friday, outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared to confirm that it was in fact Israel that had stuck targets in Syria. He suggested that Washington was fully behind Israeli efforts to prevent advanced weapons from landing in the hands of terrorists.
“We have expressed the concern that we have to do everything we can to make sure that sophisticated weapons like SA-17 missiles or, for that matter chemical biological weapons, do not fall into the hands of terrorists,” he told AFP.