By AFP, Khaleej Times – 3 Feb 2010
DAMASCUS — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem warned Israel on Wednesday about launching any war against his country, saying it would turn into a wider conflict.
“Israelis, do not test the power of Syria since you know the war will move into your cities,” Muallem told journalists in the Syrian capital Damascus.
“Return to reason, follow the path of peace … and implement the requirements of peace fairly and comprehensively,” he told a media conference with visiting Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos.
Muallem had been questioned about comments made on Monday by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
“In the absence of a peace agreement with Syria, we might find ourselves in a forceful conflict that could lead to an all-out war,” Barak’s office quoted him as saying in a speech to senior officers on Monday.
The Syrian minister said such statements “heightened the risk of war in the region.”
“If such a war comes … it will be widespread even if it is waged against (just) southern Lebanon or Syria,” Muallem warned, while excluding the chance of “peace negotiations being launched after such a war.”
Moratinos, who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday and Tuesday, said he “had not heard the war drums beat” in the Jewish state.
“Instead, I heard about peace,” he said, stressing that the European Union would keep up its efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a meeting with Moratinos that “Israel was not serious in achieving peace and that everything showed it was working towards a war,” according the state news agency SANA.
Syria and Israel held indirect talks mediated by Turkey in 2008 over the Golan Heights, which was seized and later annexed by the Jewish state after the 1967 Middle East war.