Syrian defence minister says army can't be beaten

BEIRUT Tue Feb 5, 2013 3:22am IST

Members of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad walk with their weapons at Darya near Damascus in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on February 4, 2013. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

Members of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad walk with their weapons at Darya near Damascus in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on February 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout

Related Topics

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's defence minister said the army had proved it would not be defeated in its confrontation with rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, but declined to say whether it would respond to an Israeli air strike last week.

"This heroic Syrian Arab army proved to the world that it is a strong army, a trained army, an army that cannot be broken," Fahed al-Freij told state television in an interview broadcast on Monday.

He did not say whether Syria would retaliate against an Israeli raid on Wednesday which diplomats and security sources said targeted a convoy of weapons destined for Syria's ally Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.

Syria said the attack struck vehicles and buildings at a military research centre at Jamraya, north-west of Damascus and close to the Lebanese border.

Freij portrayed Israel's attack as a response to the failure of the rebels, who he described as "tools" of the Jewish state, to destroy the Jamraya complex.

"Why does Syria not respond? It's the Israeli enemy which responded ... When the Israeli enemy saw that its tools were being pursued, and they did not achieve their results, it intervened," he said.

"It is a response to our military work against the armed gangs."

Syria protested last week to the United Nations over the Israeli raid, saying it considered it a violation of a military disengagement accord following their last major war in 1973.

Its ambassador to Lebanon also warned that Syria could decide on a "surprise" response to the attack.

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak implied his country was behind the raid but officials have otherwise maintained silence, just as they did when Israel bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site in 2007.

That attack did not prompt military retaliation.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Sophie Hares)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Nuclear Talks

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Cabinet Changes

Cabinet Changes

Hagel resigns as U.S. defence secretary.  Full Article 

Terrorism Threat

Terrorism Threat

UK faces biggest terrorism threat in its history - minister.  Full Article 

Facing a split

Facing a Split

Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa wins 2015 budget vote despite defection.  Full Article 

Suicide Attack

Suicide Attack

Bomber targeted police commander in Afghan volleyball game attack.  Full Article 

Budget Slash

Budget Slash

Indonesia's cost-cutting, economy-flying leader slashes travel funds.  Full Article 

Presidential Ballot

Presidential Ballot

Tunisia presidential vote heads into close run-off.  Full Article 

Mobile Boost

Mobile Boost

Bank on poor women and phones to drive growth in Africa, experts say.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage