Israel attacks Syrian targets
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The Israeli air force has fired on Syrian targets positioned in Lebanon, Israeli and Lebanese officials said.
In its strongest language since withdrawing its forces from south Lebanon nearly a year ago, Israel accused the Hezbollah of a "terrorist policy" operated "under the patronage of the Syrian government."
The raid Monday comes as Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah Khatib visits Israel to promote a Jordan-Egypt plan -- approved by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- aimed at defusing tensions and resuming peace negotiations.
Before leaving for Israel Khatib told the Reuters news agency: "We deplore the unnecessary escalation that has aggravated the situation in the region."
Since the attack, Syrian soldiers in Lebanon have been put on a state of high alert and there have been troop movements in the country.
A Syrian government spokesman said: "This (aggression) constitutes a dangerous escalation that would destabilize security and stability in the region.
"Syria considers the aggression as a challenge to the will of the Arab nation ... and reserves its right to defend itself against any aggression."
In the first official Lebanese reaction to the strikes, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said Israel's military action was "a dangerous attack on both Syria and Lebanon."
He warned against any further Israeli decisions to widen the "circle of tension" in the area, calling on the international community to move quickly in order to contain such tension before it takes on dangerous dimensions.
According to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces, its airplanes attacked a Syrian military radar monitoring station in Daher el-Bayader, north of the Beirut-Damascus highway.
The strikes followed a special security cabinet meeting chaired by Sharon. The cabinet voted 11 to two in favour of the airstrikes.
Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate for his role in working out Israel's first accord with the Palestinians in 1993 and another Labor party member Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh voted against the raid.
Unconfirmed reports claim two or three Syrians were killed in the attacks.
The strikes were in line with an Israeli threat to retaliate against Lebanon and Syria for what it said was a Hezbollah guerrilla attack on an Israeli battle tank on Saturday.
The attack happened in a disputed area called Shebaa Farms, a triangle of land at the foot of the Golan Heights that is bordered by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Israel retaliated immediately by shelling two villages and suspected Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon on Saturday.
The United Nations said Hezbollah's attacks against the tank were in clear violation of a U.N. resolution calling for the Israelis to leave Lebanon. Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. Secretary-General's personal representative for southern Lebanon, expressed concern at the Hezbollah action, following his meeting with Hariri.
Hariri's newspaper had earlier criticized Hezbollah's wisdom and timing in carrying out the attack, implying it was not in Lebanon's national interest to be sucked into a wider conflict.
Since May 24, 2000, when Israel withdrew from south Lebanon, there have been eight attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas on the Israeli army at the border. Three Israeli soldiers died, and three soldiers and one Israeli civilian were kidnapped.
Though Israel has taken other retaliatory action, the events of the weekend mark the first serious Israeli counter action using aircraft.
CNN correspondents Mike Hanna and Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.
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