Israel has been growing increasingly concerned that Assad, fighting a civil war with rebels who want to overthrow him, is losing his grip on power and on his country’s arsenal including chemical weapons.
The strike was apparently meant to prevent Syrian and Iranian ally Hezbollah from acquiring more sophisticated defenses that could have limited Israel’s ability to gather intelligence on its enemies from the air.
For years, Israel has been charging that Assad and Iran have been arming Hezbollah, which fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006.
Still, the airstrike was criticized by some countries vehemently opposed to the Assad regime.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that Israel engaged in ‘‘state terror.’’
‘‘Those who have from the very beginning looked in the wrong direction and who have nourished and raised Israel like a spoiled child should always expect such things from Israel,’’ Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Erdogan as saying.
Saudi Arabia also criticized the strike as a ‘‘flagrant violation’’ against Syria’s territory, the kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported Monday.
Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.