An Israeli airstrike on a military research facility near Damascus was aimed at destabilizing and weakening Syria, President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday.

“This aggression exposes the real role being undertaken by Israel in collaboration with hostile external powers and their tools on the Syrian land to destabilize Syria and weaken it,” state-run SANA news agency quoted Mr. Assad as saying.

Mr. Assad’s addressed the nation after Israel’s defence minister indicated on Sunday that his country was behind the airstrike on Syria last week, in the first public comments from his government on the attack on a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for the militant group Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, addressing a gathering of world’s top diplomats in Munich had said, “I keep telling frankly that we said and that’s proof when we said something we mean it. We say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”

In his address, Mr. Assad stressed that Syria was capable of “repelling any aggression targeting the Syrian people, thanks to ... the might of the Syrian army and Syria’s adherence to the path of resistance.” Mr. Assad spoke during a meeting in Damascus with Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

The Syrian army said on Wednesday Israeli jets had targeted the military research centre north-west of Damascus, but denied reports that the raid had hit a convoy of weapons bound for Hezbollah near the Lebanese border.

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