Published: Monday, May 6, 2013

Israel strikes Syria again

Damacus vows retaliation; Egypt, Arab League condemn attack

Large explosions were reported at Mount Qassioun, a military site, near the Syrian capital of Damascus early yesterday. Photo: Mail Online

Large explosions were reported at Mount Qassioun, a military site, near the Syrian capital of Damascus early yesterday. Photo: Mail Online

Israeli strikes hit a military target outside Damascus yesterday, the Jewish state’s second reported raid on Syria this week, with residents saying the attack felt like an earthquake and turned the sky red.
A senior Israeli source said the aerial assault hit Iranian weapons destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is allied to the Syrian regime.
And a diplomatic source in Beirut told AFP three sites were targeted — a military facility, a nearby weapons depot and an anti-aircraft unit in Sabura, west of the capital.
The official SANA news agency said Israel had targeted the military research centre at Jamraya, northwest of Damascus, without giving details on casualties or damage.
The Israeli strike “opens door to all possibilities,” said Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi at a press conference broadcast live on state television.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad called the attack Sunday a “declaration of war” by Israel.
In an interview with CNN, he said the attack represented an alliance between Islamic terrorists and Israel. He added that Syria would retaliate against Israel in its own time and way.
The Israeli strikes were staunchly condemned by Egypt as a “violation” of international law while the Cairo-based Arab League demanded UN Security Council intervention to stop such Israeli attacks.
Residents of the upscale Damascus neighbourhood of Dumar said the earth shook violently and turned the black night sky red.
“It was like an earthquake, the sky was yellow and red,” said 72-year-old Najwa.
Video footage uploaded to YouTube appeared to show a series of missiles lighting up clouds, blazing fires and an explosion producing an orange fireball that momentarily fills the screen.
The powerful blast sent up towering clouds of smoke illuminated by burning debris.
If confirmed, the attack would be Israel’s second this week against targets inside Syria and the second time it has targeted the Jamraya facility, after a January 30 raid that Israeli officials implicitly acknowledged.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed his departure on a trip to China by two hours, reportedly to attend a security cabinet meeting.
Israel has frequently warned that it would act to stop the transfer of advanced weapons systems or chemical weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah with which it fought a devastating war in 2006.
Britain warned of the risk to the region posed by the Syrian conflict, which is now in its third year and has killed more than 70,000 people.
US President Barack Obama, speaking after the first reported attack this week, said Israel was justified in protecting itself.
The rebel Free Syrian Army reacted cautiously, saying their country was already under daily attack by regime aircraft.