A weekend of harrowing violence in the Middle East has elicited strong reaction from world leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, gave a speech Tuesday at a memorial service commemorating the 1973 Middle East war.
"Israel will not be deterred from defending its citizens and will hit its enemies any place and in any way," Sharon said.
These are Sharon's first public comments following an Israeli air strike near the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Sunday, according to Reuters news agency.
Despite his harsh rhetoric Sharon also said, "We will not miss any opening and opportunity to reach an agreement with our neighbors and peace."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also spoke out publicly in a Tuesday interview with the daily paper, al-Hayat.
"The raid is an attempt by the Israeli government to extract itself from its big crisis by trying to terrorize Syria and drag it and the region into other wars," Assad said.
He also denied that the target of Sunday's strike was a Palestinian militant training camp, calling it a "civilian site."
The air raid on the purported militant training camp was in response to a suicide bombing at a cafe in the Israeli city of Haifa on Saturday, in which 19 people were killed.
The United States also spoke in response to the situation.
President Bush said yesterday that Israel had the right to defend itself, but said, "It's very important that any action Israel takes should avoid escalation and creating higher tensions."
The United States has tried, with limited success, to get Syria to end its association with Palestinian militant groups, reports the British Broadcasting Company.
President Assad said Syria would not yield to these demands to expel Palestinian organizations, saying he didn't regard them as terrorists, according to Reuters.
"It is not important to call them terrorist or not terrorist. They are existing forces that you have to deal with," Assad said.
The U.S. State Department said on Monday that while the offices of these groups have closed in Damascus, they remain open throughout the country. It has also accused Syria of allowing militants to pass through the country en route to Iraq to undermine the efforts of U.S. troops there.
In response to these allegations President Assad said in the interview in al-Hayat, "There is big chaos in Iraq. There is arms smuggling and persons crossing the border and we don't know who they are. Of course, the Americans say they are terrorists. Maybe for them, any Arab is a terrorist."
The attack on Syria led to increased tensions along the border between Israel and Lebanon, reports CNN.
The Israeli defense force said an Israeli patrol group returned fire after being at by people on the Lebanese side wearing the uniforms and masks of the militant group Hezbollah.
On Sunday, Syria called a meeting of the U.N. Security Council and proposed a resolution condemning the Israeli air strike.
No vote is scheduled yet, and the United States most likely will not support it, according to CNN.
Syrian ambassador to the U.N., Fayssal Mekdad, told CNN, "When a country occupies the land of other countries and practices violence, it is not possible to consider this self defense."
Almost all members of the Security Council condemned the Israeli attack, calling it an aggression against international law, reports United Press International. The only two countries not siding with Syria were Russia and the United States.
"We believe Syria is on the wrong side in the war on terrorism," said U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte. "We have been clear on the need for Syria to stop harboring terrorist groups."
Negroponte said it was in the interest of the Middle East as a whole for Syria to stop "harboring and supporting the groups that perpetrate terrorist acts such as the one that occurred in Haifa."
The United States said it would not support any resolution that did not contain specific language condemning suicide bombings, as well as naming the specific organizations claiming responsibility, according to United Press International.
-Compiled by Sarah Stiles
World leaders respond to latest Israeli attacks
Published: Wed Oct 08, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:27 p.m.