The Israel Air Force struck storage facilities near Damascus housing Iranian
Fateh-110 missiles destined for Hezbollah overnight Sunday for the second time
in 48 hours – according to foreign media reports – sending flames and the sounds
of blasts throughout the city.
Amateur footage shot by Syrian civilians
showed several blasts, suggesting that the missiles caught on fire and were
causing secondary explosions, at a site on top of Mount Qassioun, overlooking
Although the Israeli defense community believes the
chances of direct Syrian or Hezbollah retaliation are low, since they are
devoting their resources to the Syrian civil war and are vulnerable to Israeli
air power, the IDF took a number of precautions on Sunday
These safety measures included closing Israeli airspace to
civilian flights in the North until Thursday, and deploying two Iron Dome air
defense batteries, to Haifa and Safed.
Arkia Israel Airlines said that
“due to IDF instructions on the closure of airspace in the North until May 9,
Arkia is forced to announce the cancellation of domestic flights from Haifa to
The IDF said only that northern civilian airspace was being
jointly managed by the IAF and civil authorities in accordance with the latest
“The sky was red all night. We didn’t sleep a single
second. The explosions started after midnight and continued through the
night,” one man told Reuters from Hameh, close to Jamraya, northwest of
Syrian state television claimed the bombing occurred around a
military research facility at Jamraya. It quoted a letter from Foreign Minister
Walid al-Muallem to the United Nations saying: “The blatant Israeli aggression
has the aim to provide direct military support to the terrorist groups after
they failed to control territory.”
A Western intelligence source told
Reuters: “In last night’s attack, as in the previous one, what was attacked were
stores of Fateh-110 missiles that were in transit from Iran to
The Al-Mayadeen Lebanese television channel, affiliated to
Iran and Hezbollah, said four people were killed and 70 were wounded in the
attack. The same news agency claimed that Syria had pointed missiles in Israel’s
Ghassan bin Jiddo, head of programming for Al-Mayadeen, warned
on Sunday that a response would definitely come, adding that if Israel responded
to the retaliation, that would signal the beginning of a war.
hours following the strikes, CNN quoted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal
Mekdad as saying that the action was “declaration of war.”
Syrian information minister, Omran al-Zoabi, held a press conference in Damascus
following a meeting of the cabinet, and said, “The Israeli enemy exhibited gross
aggression against Syria and used missiles to bomb military facilities in
violation of all international law. This aggression opens the door to all
options, and made the region more dangerous.”
Islamic Jihad in the Gaza
Strip threatened to join any retaliation from Syria.
The Iranian Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged countries to resist Israel, while a senior
Iranian commander said Syria was strong enough to defend itself without Tehran’s
help – though he offered training.
“As a Muslim nation, we back Syria,
and if there is need for training we will provide them with the training, but
won’t have any active involvement in the operations,” the general said in
remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency.
television aired footage showing a flattened building spread over an area the
size of a soccer field, with smoke rising from rubble containing shell
It did not identify where the film was shot.
opposition activists said they were glad strikes may weaken Assad, even if few
Syrians have any liking for Israel.
“We don’t care who did it,” said
Rania al-Midania in Damascus. “We care that those weapons are no longer there to
Egypt condemned the reported Israeli attack on Syria on Sunday,
saying it complicated a crisis that Cairo was trying to help resolve.
a statement, Egypt’s presidency said the attack was a violation of international
law and a threat to regional security and stability that “made the situation
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called
upon the United Nations Security Council to move immediately to halt “the
Israeli attacks on Syria,” Egyptian state news agency MENA reported, citing an
Arab League official.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on all
sides to “exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of
responsibility, according to his spokesman.
“The secretary-general urges
respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in
the region, and adherence to all relevant Security Council resolutions,” the
Republican Sen, John McCain said the latest Israeli air
strikes will put more pressure on the US administration to act, although
President Barack Obama had said he had no plans to send ground troops to
“We need to have a game-changing action, and that is no American
boots on the ground, establish a safe zone and to protect it and to supply
weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting, obviously, for the things
we believe,” McCain said on Fox News Sunday.
“Every day that goes by,
Hezbollah increases their influence and the radical jihadists flow into Syria
and the situation becomes more and more tenuous,” he said.
staff contributed to this report.