Assad: Syria would back Lebanon if Israel attacks

Damascus– Syria will support Lebanon in the event of any attack from Israel, President Bashar al-Assad told the speaker of Beirut’s parliament on Sunday, the official SANA news agency reported.

"Syria will stand alongside the government and people of Lebanon against any possible Israeli aggression launched on Lebanon," the agency quoted Assad as saying to Nabih Berri in Damascus.

Assad and Berri discussed "repeated Israeli threats on countries in the region and Israeli extremism which can kill chances for peace and bring war to the region," SANA said.

Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Lebanon’s Syrian-backed Hizbullah Shia movement will spark a tough response.

Syria and Israel have also been locked in a bitter war of words for several days.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem warned on Wednesday that war against his country would become a wider conflict. "Israelis, do not test the power of Syria since you know the war will move into your cities," he said.

His Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman retorted on Thursday that any war would cost Assad his grip on power. "When there is another war, you will not just lose it, but you and your family will lose power," Lieberman said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to ease tensions on Sunday, saying that Israel wants peace with all of its neighbours.

"We made peace with Egypt and Jordan and we seek peace with Syria and the Palestinians," he said.

On Tuesday Netanyahu had accused Beirut of allowing Hezbollah to smuggle weapons into Lebanon in "blatant violation of (United Nations Security Council) Resolution 1701" which led to an end to the 34-day conflict.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in 2006, which killed more than 1200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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