Israeli warplanes "buzzed" the summer residence of the Syrian
President, Bashar al-Assad, yesterday in an attempt to pressure him to secure
the release of the abducted Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit.
Military officials said the warplanes flew over President Assad's palace
near the coastal port city of Latkia. Television reports said the Syrian President
had been at home during the pre-dawn flights.
Mr Assad was apparently targeted because Israel believes there are close links
between Syria and Hamas. Khaled Mashaal, the exiled Hamas political bureau chief
widely believed by many Palestinians as well as Israel as having sanctioned
the raid in which Cpl Shalit was abducted last Sunday, is based in Damascus.
Military officials said the aircraft flying low had made a "noise" on
the ground but did not say whether they created sonic booms of the sort generated
in Gaza yesterday.
State-run Syrian television said two Israeli arciraft had flown over the country's
Mediterranean coast in an "aggressive act and a provocation". Quoting
an unnamed Information Ministry official, it claimed "national air defences
opened fire in the direction of the planes, and they dispersed."
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