Syria Says It Repelled Israeli Warplanes

September 6, 2007 (NYT)

Syria Says It Repelled Israeli Warplanes

JERUSALEM, Sept. 6 — Syria’s air defenses repulsed Israeli warplanes that violated Syrian airspace early today, according to the official Syrian News Agency, SANA. Other news reports cited officials in Damascus saying that the Israeli planes had dropped munitions on the ground. SANA said there had been no casualties or damage.

Israeli military officials would not confirm or deny the reports, saying only that they “do not comment on reports of that nature.”

Israel Radio cited an official Syrian spokesman as saying the aircraft had infiltrated Syrian airspace over the northern border, coming from the direction of the Mediterranean, before flying east.

The Syrian official added that Syria “warns the government of Israel over its aggressive act and reserves the right to respond however it sees fit,” Israel Radio said.

Israeli and Syrian officials have been exchanging calming messages through third parties in recent weeks, against the background of growing tensions between their countries. Israel has said it does not intend to start a war with Syria, but military officials here have warned of the dangers of a miscalculation because of the heightened state of alert on both sides of the Israel-Syria border.

Syrian officials said the incident happened at about 1 a.m. today, but the first reports only emerged more than 12 hours later.

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