Israel Air Force fighter jets struck a “military research center” in Syria’s
Damascus province, near the border with Lebanon, at dawn on Wednesday, according
to a report by Syrian state television.
Two people were said to have been
killed and five wounded in the attack on the site in Jamraya, which the report
described as one of a number of “scientific research centers aimed at raising
the level of resistance and self-defense.”
The building was destroyed,
the Syrian military command said in a statement carried by state media. It said
the planes flying below radar level crossed into Syria just north of Mount
Hermon, and returned the same way.
Earlier, several foreign reports said
a weapons convoy carrying “game-changing” arms from Syria to Hezbollah in
Lebanon had been hit overnight. Syria’s military command later denied that a
convoy had been attacked.
It remains unclear whether the various reports
related to separate air strikes.
The IDF has declined to comment on the
The type of weapons reportedly being transported in the convoy
remains unknown, although the Associated Press cited anonymous security sources
as saying trucks carrying advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft missile launchers were
hit. Should Hezbollah obtain the SA-17 from Syria, it could limit the IAF’s
ability to maneuver freely over Lebanon for surveillance or to target Hezbollah
targets in a future conflict.
Other reports suggested that the weapons
hit were Yakhont anti-ship missiles or powerful Scud D ground-toground missiles.
There was no word on whether the convoy carried chemical weapons.
foreign reports claiming that a convoy had been hit conflicted over the
Most said the air strike had taken place near the Syrian town
of Zabadani, in the southwest of the country near the Lebanese border, while
others said the attack occurred just after the convoy entered Lebanon, near the
village of Nabi Sheeth.
Lebanese sources reported the entry of 12 IAF
aircraft in two waves on Tuesday afternoon and evening. The fighter planes flew
over the southwestern Lebanese town of Nakoura, then headed northeast over Bint
Jbail toward the Syrian border, according to the reports.
At 2 a.m. the jets were
reportedly heard heading back to Israel.
Hezbollah and Lebanon have
denied any knowledge of an attack.
Reuters cited one Western diplomat as
saying that the target was “a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to
Lebanon,” adding that the consignment seemed unlikely to have included chemical
A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad
said an air strike at around dawn blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5
kilometers south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border.
Its load probably included hi-tech anti-aircraft and anti-tank
“It attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the
regime to Hezbollah,” the source said, adding that it took place inside Syria,
though the border in the area is poorly defined.
A security official in
the region also placed the attack on the Syrian side. A Lebanese security
official denied any strike in Lebanon. It was not clear whether special forces
The attack sent jitters throughout the region and came after
the IDF stationed two Iron Dome air defense batteries in northern Israel earlier
in the week.
Haim Mazaki of the Israel Postal Company, which is helping
distribute gas masks at several distribution centers around the country, said on
Wednesday that more Israelis have been demanding gas masks in light of the
threat of chemical weapons falling into the terrorist hands in
Speaking to Israel Radio, Mazaki said there had been “increased
demand in recent days following reports about the transfer of chemical weapons
to terrorist groups in Syria.” The Postal Company said the number had doubled in
Speaking hours before the reported air strikes, IAF chief
Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said that Israel’s need to deal with developing threats
before they begin having an impact on the country’s security was
“Today, no one has an idea of what will be in Syria, and how the
country will look. This is happening in a place with a vast arsenal of weapons,
some of which are modern and advanced, and some of which are unconventional,” he
told a space conference in Herzliya.
Israel has been closely monitoring
the danger of chemical weapon transfers from Syria to radical groups. With
dozens of storage and production sites spread over a large area, attacks against
these facilities would require extensive planning, intelligence and
It emerged on Wednesday that OC Military Intelligence
Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi was in Washington for consultations with his US
counterparts at the Pentagon.
Earlier this week, Israel Radio reported
that the prime minister’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, had flown
to Moscow for talks with senior Russian officials.
Reuters contributed to