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Israeli airstrike on Syrian research center occurs in cooperation with rebels: minister


10:01, February 05, 2013

DAMASCUS, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij said Monday that the Israeli airstrike targeting a military research center in Damascus' suburb last week occurred in cooperation with the armed rebels fighting against the government on ground.

In an interview with the state-TV aired late Monday, al-Freij said the research center in Damascus' northwestern suburb of Jumraya had been repeatedly targeted by the rebels, who failed to destroy it before the Israeli air raid.

He said the "armed terrorist groups" have been recently targeting Syria's air-defense systems nationwide on the behest of Israel in order to render those systems out of service.

Last Wednesday, Israeli war jets sneaked into Syria and hit the center in Jumraya. Western officials said the airstrike targeted a convoy carrying weaponries from Syria to Lebanon as well as the center from which the convoy set off.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed on Sunday that his country carried out the air raid inside Syria, adding that "We don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."

The airstrike has drawn condemnation by some regional and international countries.

Meanwhile, al-Freij said the Syrian army will do its utmost to protect the country's institutions from armed rebels, calling on citizens to cooperate with the authorities to uncover the hideouts of gunmen.

The rebels hid in populated areas in residential blocs and they are also booby-trapping roads and buildings, he said, adding that the Syrian army is working on securing the roads in order to meet the needs of citizens by all means.

The minister noted that Syria is leading the "axe of resistance. "

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