Israeli air strike targets Damascus military facility

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Published Sunday, May 5, 2013

Updated at 4:30pm: Israeli rockets struck a military facility outside Damascus overnight, Syrian state media said Sunday, marking Israel’s second reported attack on Syria in three days.

The official SANA news agency said Israel was responsible for the attack on the Jamraya military research centre in the Eastern Ghouta region.

"This new Israeli aggression is a clear attempt to alleviate the pressure on the armed terrorist groups after our army beat them back in several regions and after the army's victories on the road to recovering security and stability in Syria," said SANA.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Sunday in a letter sent to the United Nations and the UN Security Council that the "Israeli aggression" aimed "to give direct military support to terrorist groups" fighting the government. According to the letter, an unknown number of people were killed and wounded during the attack, which "caused widespread destruction."

A video filmed overnight Saturday showed explosions lighting up the sky near Damascus:

An al-Manar reporter in Damascus said that explosions were still being heard at the site of the bombing on Sunday morning, indicating that the site might have been a weapons depot.

Video footage uploaded onto the Internet showed a series of explosions at Jamraya, 15 kilometers away from the Lebanese border. One lit up the skyline over the city, while another sent up a tower of flames and secondary blasts.

There was no immediate comment from Israel or the United States.

However, Syria's state television said the strikes were a response to recent military gains by government troops against rebels. "The new Israeli attack is an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups which have been reeling from strikes by our noble army," it said.

In an interview on CNN Sunday, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal al-Mekdad called the attack a "declaration of war."

If confirmed, the attack would be Israel's second this week against targets inside Syria and also its second this year on the Jamraya facility, following a January 30 raid.

The previous attack took place on Friday, as an air strike targeted what they claimed were missiles supposed to be shipped to Hezbollah, an Israeli official said.

The raid in January, which was implicitly confirmed by Israel, allegedly targeted surface-to-air missiles and an adjacent military complex believed to house chemical agents, a US official said at the time.

According to TV station al-Mayadeen, Syria’s military leadership is meeting to discuss how to respond to the recent raids, and all options are on the table.

The attack comes as Israeli fighter jets have flown over the Lebanese capital Beirut repeatedly over the past week.

According to Lebanese news agency NNA, the Israeli army raised the number of troops at the border with Lebanon, Israeli newspaper Haaretz also reported that two Iron Dome have been deployed in Haifa and Safed, in anticipation of possible retaliation.

Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour denounced "Arab-international silence vis-a-vis recurrent Israeli aggression," and called for the Arab League to take a stand to prevent an escalation of violence, the NNA reported.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters, AP)


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