MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said Russia can play an important role in the crisis following Syria’s firing missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes in the conflict-torn country. “Russia can play a role so that Israel no longer attacks Syria,” Assad told Russian journalists. “I think Russia can play an important role in this regard.” Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned Israel’s ambassador over air strikes close to Moscow’s forces near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra. The air strikes on Friday prompted retaliatory Syrian missile launches, in the most serious incident between the two countries since the war began six years ago. Israel’s military said it had been targeting weapons bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which backs the Damascus regime in Syria. Assad was quoted in comments translated into Russian that “any military operation in Syria that does not have the consent of the Syrian government is illegal”.