Syria: We expect Israel to launch Middle Eastern War anytime

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called Friday on the Israeli and US leaders Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush to negotiate with Damascus.

The Syrian leader also told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview published Friday that his country expects an attack by Israel.

“Many voices are being raised in Israel” for dialogue with Damascus, Assad said. “So I say to Olmert: let him try, and see if we are bluffing.”

Assad said he was echoing a recommendation of the Iraq Study Group for dialogue with Syria and Iran.

The December 6 report “recognizes the central role of Syria (and) speaks of the need for a comprehensive peace, linking the crises of the region to the problem of the occupation, in Iraq as well as in Palestine and the Golan Heights,” he said.

Assad said that while he was prepared for a constructive dialogue with the United States in the region, “there is insufficient will, and we cannot be alone.”

He called for talks bringing together “Israel, Iraq, the United Nations, Europe, but also China and Japan.”

Asked about Israeli military intelligence reports that Syria was amassing missiles along its border in preparation for a military campaign, Assad replied: “Amassing missiles is an inexact description.”

But he said: “We are expecting Israel to launch a war against Syria at any time. (Israel) is threatening to go to war against Hezbollah and Syria next summer. … It’s not a fantasy: war is always possible in our region.”

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