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Main focus of Friday, February 1, 2013

Concern about Israel's air strike in Syria

Russia and the Arab League have also condemned the attack. (© AP/dapd)

Following an Israeli air strike on Syrian territory on Tuesday night, Syria and Iran have threatened with retaliatory measures. There have been contradictory reports as to whether the target of the attack was a weapons convoy or military research installations. Commentators fear that now that Israel has set a precedent, agents like Iran and Hezbollah will intervene in the conflict.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Israel's example could set precedent

Israel's air strike in Syria may have been justified, but the situation could escalate and encourage other states to intervene in their own interest, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung fears: "The Israeli attack sets a precedent in the Syrian civil war that markedly increases the tensions in the region. There is no lack of reasons for Israel to attack Syria - whether it's to prevent Hezbollah from getting hold of weapons like the SA 17 or extremist groups among the Syrian rebels from obtaining chemical weapons. But if the Jewish state intervenes other states that see their interests affected in the Syrian crisis may raise the stakes. And this increases the risk that the current conflict by proxy turns into a clash between several different forces." (01/02/2013)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Fear of retaliatory strike by Iran

Israel's attack in Syria threatens to cause a dangerous escalation in the conflict, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns, fearing above all a retaliatory strike from Iran: "As understandable as Israel's struggle for security may be, the timing of the attack was very unfortunate. Russia sees the strike as an unacceptable attack on Syria's sovereignty. Moscow will now position itself even more resolutely behind Assad in a conflict which is constantly escalating. The prospect of a diplomatic solution now seems further away than ever. At the same time Israel is provoking Iran. This is ill-considered and risky. Tehran has after all already said that an attack against Syria is an attack against Iran. The Iranian threat of retaliation can be played down rhetorically given the impact that international sanctions have on the country. But Iran still sees itself as the most important player in the region and can't just stop at words if its wants to retain its credibility." (01/02/2013)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Syria is weapons arsenal for Hezbollah

Although a retaliatory strike is not to be expected from Syria, the Israeli air strike could open up a new line of conflict, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung warns: "Because the Hezbollah in Lebanon could seek to retaliate with new violence. ... The stationing of two missile defence batteries in the north of Israel immediately before the attack on Syria confirms such worries on the part of the Israeli leadership. However Hezbollah's initial reaction calling for international condemnation of Israel shows little fighting spirit. Without backing from Syria, it seems the Shiite militia is not willing to wage war on Israel at the moment. So is this all smoke and no fire? Unfortunately not. ... The closer the end of its protector Assad comes, the more Hezbollah will want to fill its arsenals with everything it can get out of Syria, from simple missiles to - in the worst case - weapons of mass destruction. Israel will keep a close eye on developments, and certainly won't allow its worst enemies to rearm. This fight has only just begun." (01/02/2013)

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