Syria civil war: President Bashar al-Assad says 'we will respond to any Israeli aggression next time'

Israel has already launched strikes into the war-torn country, claiming that they disrupted arms shipments to Hezbollah

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The Independent Online

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has warned Israel that he will respond to any airstrikes from them with airstrikes of his own.

Speaking on Lebanon's Hezbollah-owned television station Al-Manar, Assad warned: "We have informed all the parties who have contacted us that we will respond to any Israeli aggression next time.

"There is clear popular pressure to open a new front of resistance in the Golan."

Israel launched a strike into Syria earlier this year, saying it targeted a "game-changing" shipment of advanced missiles bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned in the past he would be prepared to take military action if chemical weapons or other arms reached Hezbollah which would embolden his country's avowed enemies - who are also close allies of the Syrian regime.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights - along the two countries' border - since the 1967 war, annexing the territory in 1981.

Syria and Israel have been in a state of war since 1948 but the border had been relatively calm in recent years.

Syria's civil war, more than two years old, is thought to have claimed more than 70,000 lives and displaced more than a million people. It is fought between forces loyal to Assad and rebels, mostly from the disparate Free Syrian Army.

The conflict has spilled periodically across the ceasefire line and Syria's borders with Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, threatening to engulf the region.

Israel had been lobbying Moscow over the planned supply of advanced S-300 air defence missiles, but Russia has confirmed the shipment - planned before the unrest in 2011 which led to the current turmoil - will arrive during or after the autumn.