Syrian state television reported Wednesday that two workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a military research center northwest of Damascus. In a statement, Syria's military command denied earlier reports that the planes had struck a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon.
Earlier, a security source told Reuters that Israeli warplanes attacked a target near the Syria-Lebanon border overnight, amid growing fears about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria.
A Western diplomat, speaking to the news agency, confirmed the attack. "The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," the diplomat said.
A source from among the Syrian rebels told Reuters that an air strike at dawn "attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah." The source said the strike occurred inside Syria, but added that the border is poorly defined.
The Syrian statement said, "Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct airstrike on our scientific and research military center in Jamraya, which works to raise our resistance and self-defense.” The statement added that the building was seriously damaged.
Israel refused to comment on the incident. "We do not comment on reports of this kind," an Israeli army spokeswoman said.
But ITV correspondent John Ray tweeted that a well-placed Israeli defense analyst assured him that the strike did happen and was inside Lebanese territory. The target, the analyst told him, was a truckload of scud and anti-aircraft missiles bound for Hezbollah.
Earlier, it was reported that Lebanon’s Army command said that 12 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanon’s airspace between Tuesday evening and dawn on Wednesday.
Israel has repeatedly expressed concerns over Syria's chemical weapons and warned it would not accept the weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah.
As for Hezbollah, they did not mention the event. But the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar reported that a bomb was planted underneath a car belonging to a member of Hezbollah in Hay al-Sellom, south of Beirut, on Monday night. The bombing left two people injured. The channel did not mention whether the injured people were members of Hezbollah, but did say that following the incident Army and Hezbollah security forces cordoned off the area.
It is worth mentioning here that Western intelligence sources believe that Syria has more than 200 scud missiles and that it has developed chemical warheads for all its scuds. Moreover, Iran has supplied Syria with at least 100 Chinese shore-to-sea missiles.
On Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel deployed two Iron Dome batteries near its northern border with Syria. Furthermore, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom threatened that Israel could launch a preemptive strike on Syria if President Bashar al-Assad's regime loses control of its chemical weapons stockpiles.
Last November, US President Barack Obama said that if the Syrian regime were to use its chemical weapons, it would constitute crossing a “red line” and could force military intervention.
It is not Israel's habit to admit to raids or assassinations carried out beyond its borders, but it seems that Israel's imprint is clear in this attack.
I think the transfer of weapons, of any kind, to Hezbollah or any other militant group should not be done. These weapons belong to the Republic of Syria and the Syrian people. The Syrian regime is not the owner of these weapons; therefore, if this raid has actually happened, it will be another sign of the fall of the Syrian regime.
I think we have to make a link between the Israeli raid and what was mentioned in Israel's Maariv newspaper, that the Israeli army intelligence chief was in Washington on Tuesday for closed-door meetings with US security officials. (Israeli officials refused to comment on the nature of the meetings.)
The question is: Did America give the green light for this raid?
I do not think that Hezbollah would move weapons from Syria over land, as Hezbollah is fully aware that Syria's border with Lebanon is monitored by America and Israel. I guess they would transfer weapons by other means, maybe through tunnels between the two countries.