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IDF officer denies report Israel planning to attack Syria
Responding to a report in a pan-Arab daily newspaper that Israel presented Damascus with an ultimatum, an Israel Defense Forces officer said Saturday that targeting Syria is currently not on Israel's agenda.
"We're not a gang that shoots in every direction," the officer said. "It won't be right to bring Syria into the campaign."
The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Saturday that Israel issued an ultimatum to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to which a regional war would erupt within 72 hours if Damascus does not prevent Hezbollah attacks.
According to the report, a Pentagon source said that if Syria does not try to influence Hezbollah, Israel could bomb essential installations in Syria. The source neither confirmed nor denied rumors that Israel had given Damascus 72 hours to comply with international demands.
The IDF officer emphasized that the Golan Heights frontier has been quiet since 1974, a factor which Israeli views as a vital security asset. The officer said that the Syrian air force as well as additional units are on high alert, a fact which hasn't escaped Israel's attention.
The source added that even though Syria is playing a negative role in the latest crisis, he believes that it had no direct role in the outbreak of fighting.
"Syria is a negative factor, but it is not strong enough in order to instigate all these events," the source said.
U.S. President George W. Bush called on Syria on Saturday to exert its influence to persuade Hezbollah to stop attacks against Israel.