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Syria accused Israel of staging a strategic air raid to prepare international opinion for a future war between the countries.

Deputy Syrian President Farouk Shara said Saturday that an Israeli sortie over northern Syria on Sept. 6 was “psychological warfare” by the Jewish state. Jerusalem has not commented on the sortie, but it stirred foreign speculation that a secret North Korean-supplied nuclear facility had been bombed.

“They are making things up to justify an aggression in the future,” Shara told reporters. “They are playing on public opinion to mislead it.”

Damascus, which denies seeking atomic weapons, said the Israeli warplanes dropped munitions harmlessly in the desert and were chased off by Syrian ground defenses.

Shara suggested that Israel ordered the raid to boost military prestige hit hard by the setbacks of last year’s war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

“They want to rehabilitate the Israeli army after the Lebanese resistance broke it. But what Israel needs is to rehabilitate the Israeli mind. Only then will a real opportunity for peace be created,” he said.

Israel has called for renewed peace talks with Syria, but on condition Damascus first stop sponsoring Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups. Israel also rejects Syria’s demand that it agree to return all of the Golan Heights before negotiations begin.

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