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Western officials fear retaliation for airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel

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Joby Warrick
Washington Post
May 8, 2013

The weekend airstrikes near the Syrian capital reportedly carried out by Israel have heightened concerns about terrorist attacks on Israeli tourists and other civilian targets in the coming weeks, U.S. officials and experts say, as Damascus and its allies vow to respond to what Syria has called an “act of war.”

On Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denounced Israel and said his nation was strong enough to stand up to its southern neighbor. The comments were Assad’s first since the airstrikes and came after a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who was visiting Damascus. Assad did not threaten retaliation, but he said Syria is “capable of facing Israel’s ventures.”

Although Israel has refused to comment on the strikes, U.S. officials said the attacks were aimed at a cache of advanced Iranian-built missiles apparently intended for Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group closely allied with Assad.

U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say any retaliation would probably come in a familiar form: attempted attacks by Hezbollah operatives on Israeli or Jewish civilian targets, perhaps far outside the Middle East.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 4:50 am

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