Beirut: Syrian President Bashar Assad has stressed that Syria would not attend a US-sponsored international peace conference on the Middle East if it did not address Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Assad also told how Israeli warplanes attacked an "unused military building" in his country last month and said Damascus reserves the right to retaliate.
However, Assad said his country was not about to attack Israel in response, suggesting he did not want to hurt chances at peace talks with the Jewish state.
In the first comments made by the Syrian leader about a mysterious September 6 Israeli air incursion over Syria, Assad said Israel's air raid showed it's "visceral antipathy towards peace."
He said, "Retaliate doesn't mean missile for missile and bomb for bomb. We have our means to retaliate, maybe politically, maybe in other ways. But we have the right to retaliate in different means."
He added, "But if we wanted to retaliate militarily, this means we're going to work according to the Israeli agenda, something we don't look for. That doesn't mean we squander any opportunity for peace in the near future," he added in the interview, which was monitored in neighbouring Lebanon.
Assad said Syria needs to know details of an international peace conference on the Middle East planned in the United States later this year before it decides whether to participate.
He said, "This conference or any conference is going to be an opportunity but it should be purposeful. It should be substantive. I don't see where is the purpose and what is the substance of this conference. What are they going to talk about?"
He added, "It needs more clarifications for Syria to take a decision."