Syria vows to strike back at future Israeli attacks

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warns that any military assault on his country will be met with immediate response

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned Thursday that Damascus will not hesitate to strike back in reaction to any future Israeli military assault on its territory.

“We will respond immediately and harshly to any additional attack by Israel,” Mekdad said during an interview with AFP.

The deputy foreign minister further cautioned that the Syrian army was instructed to return fire in the case of an Israeli offensive, without awaiting orders from the political leadership.

“An order was given to immediately respond to any new Israeli aggression,” he said.

According to unnamed Israeli and American sources, Israeli planes struck sites outside Damascus early Friday and again early Sunday, targeting weapons transfers from Iran to Hezbollah.

Mekdad on Sunday warned that the airstrikes near Damascus constituted an Israeli “declaration of war.” He later denied that any weapons convoys meant for the Lebanese Shiite group ever existed, claiming that “there is no Iran and no Hezbollah” in Syria.

Earlier Thursday, Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed his country “will give everything to Hezbollah,” and expressed deep appreciation for the terrorist’s unfaltering support of his regime.

Also Thursday, Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Syria would supply his Lebanese militia with “game-changing weapons.”

“Syria’s response to Israel’s air strikes is to tell Israel that if your goal was to prevent boosting the resistance’s capabilities then take note… [Syria] will give the resistance arms,” Nasrallah said, according to a translation posted on the website of the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper.

“[Syria] will provide the resistance with sophisticated weapons that the resistance has never obtained before,” he said during the televised address.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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