BEIRUT, March 19 (RIA Novosti) - Syria denied reports Tuesday that it has launched air assaults on rebel positions in Lebanon, despite having earlier warned it might do so unless Beirut reinforced its border.
Syria’s SANA state news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying Damascus respected Lebanon’s sovereignty and was committed to preserving its stability.
"Lebanese, Arab and international media circulated news about Syrian fighter jets dropping bombs inside Lebanese territory,” the official was quoted as saying. “There is absolutely no truth to this.”
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman earlier Tuesday condemned the reported strikes as “unacceptable”.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington could confirm Syrian jets and helicopters had fired rockets on a border inside Lebanon near the town of Arsal, describing the attack as a “significant escalation” in the conflict.
No destruction or casualties have been reported.
Syria last week warned that it would strike militant bases inside Lebanon unless Beirut agreed to boost border security and prevent the infiltration of armed fighters.
Damascus said several groups of terrorists had entered Syria from Lebanon early last week, forcing the army to fight them back in several villages near the border.
SANA has also claimed that the US military has performed raids into Syria from Lebanon and Jordan for reconnaissance purposes and was preparing terrorist operations in support of Syrian rebels.
The United States denies giving any military assistance to the Syrian opposition.
More than 70,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities in Syria, according to the latest United Nations estimate.
About 1 million Syrians have been displaced by the fighting, with the figure expected to triple this year, the UN said this month.
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Military exercises are held in order to prevent a war rather than prepare for one. If a potential enemy knows and sees that the Russian Army is constantly improving its skills and adopting state-of-the-art combat equipment and combat support systems he will hardly risk aggression against these Armed Forces and the country they defend.