DAMASCUS, Syria: Everything reported so far about an Israeli air raid on Syria is wrong and part of a “psychological war” against Damascus intended to lay the ground for future attacks, Syria’s vice president said Saturday.
In his first comments on the Sept. 6 Israeli incursion over Syria, Farouk al-Sharaa said Israel was trying to restore its damaged image following its “defeat” by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas during their monthlong war last year.
“If some people in Israel think that this psychological war will restore (the image of) the Israeli army following its defeat by the Lebanese resistance last year, they should know that what Israel needs is to restore the Israeli mind,” al-Sharaa said.
Details of the Israeli incursion remain unclear. While Israel has clamped a news blackout on the incident, U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target and a senior American nonproliferation official said earlier this month that North Korean personnel were in Syria helping its nuclear program, resulting in speculation nuclear installations had been targeted.
Syria and North Korea both denied the reports and accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons.
Syria has said only that warplanes entered its airspace, came under fire from anti-aircraft defenses, and dropped munitions and fuel tanks to lighten their loads while they fled.
“The size of these (media) leaks along with the fabrications they carry is striking,” al-Sharaa said at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Adil Abdul-Mahdi. “They (the Western and Israeli media) are inventing things to justify a future aggression” against Syria, he concluded.
He described reports of North Koreans killed in the alleged raid as “nonsense.”
Al-Sharaa also said that Syria has not received an official invitation to a U.S.-proposed Mideast peace conference to take place in November. But he said that any such conference must be based on “firm grounds” such as U.N. resolutions or an Arab peace initiative and the return by Israel of Arab occupied territories.
Any conference that is not based on these principles “will have no value other than being a photo opportunity,” al-Sharaa added.