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Israel defence minister says 2007 Syria strike message to enemies

© Israeli Army/AFP | Images provided by the Israeli army reportedly show an aerial view of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor during a top-secret 2007 air raid that it has publicly acknowledged for the first time

JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday a 2007 strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor was a message to his country's enemies, after the military acknowledged the raid for the first time.

"The motivation of our enemies has increased in recent years, but the strength of our army, our air force and our intelligence capabilities have increased compared with the capabilities we had in 2007," Lieberman said in a statement.

"This equation should be taken into account by everyone in the Middle East."

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz was more explicit, specifically naming Iran.

"The courageous decision of the Israeli government almost 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it sends a clear message: Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence," he wrote on Twitter.

Earlier Wednesday, Israel's military formally admitted carrying out the top-secret raid and released newly declassified material related to the operation.

The admission comes as Israel intensifies its warnings over the presence of its main enemy Iran in neighbouring Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeatedly called for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to be changed or eliminated.

Netanyahu recently warned that Israel will "never let Iran develop nuclear weapons."

The 2007 strike occurred at a desert site in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on what Israel says was a nuclear reactor under construction.

It had long been widely assumed that Israel carried out the strike. Syria has denied it was building a nuclear reactor.

© 2018 AFP