Tensions rise as Israeli jets bomb Syria again

2013-05-06 00:06:49 GMT2013-05-06 08:06:49(Beijing Time)  Shanghai Daily

ISRAELI jets bombed Syria yesterday, rocking Damascus for hours and sending pillars of flame into the night sky in what a Western source called a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Local people reported massive explosions and internet video showed the capital's skyline lit by flashes. Syrian opponents of President Bashar Assad rejoiced at Israel's third raid this year, and second in 48 hours, while anger in Iran highlighted how Syria's civil war risks spinning further beyond its borders.

Israel stressed its focus was to deny its Lebanese foes new Iranian firepower and not to take sides between Assad and rebels who have won sympathy from Israel's Western allies but who also include al-Qaida Islamists hostile to the Jewish state.

Syrian state television said the bombing around a military research facility at Jamraya caused "many civilian casualties and widespread damage."

People living near the Jamraya base spoke of explosions over several hours in various places near Damascus, including a town housing senior officials.

"Night turned into day," one man said from his home near Jamraya.

"There were explosions on all sides of my house," he added, saying people hid in basements during the air strikes.

In the centre of Damascus, people at first thought there was an earthquake.

CNN quoted Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, calling yesterday's attack a "declaration of war" and the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi urged countries to resist Israel.

After an Israeli strike on Friday, US President Barack Obama defended the country's right to defend itself from Hezbollah, which fired many rockets into Israel during a war in 2006.

A Western intelligence source said: "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 Hezbollah."

However, Iran denied the attack was on armaments bound for Lebanon.

It was unclear whether Israel sought US approval for the action. In the past, officials have indicated that Israel sees a need only to inform Washington once such a mission is under way.

At a routine public appearance yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to the strikes in Syria but spoke pointedly of his responsibility to ensure Israel's future.

He maintained a plan to fly to China later in the day, suggesting he did not expect a major escalation.

However, a military source said the army had deployed more anti-missile defense systems near the northern borders in recent days.

Video footage uploaded onto the Internet by Syrian activists showed a series of blasts. One lit up the skyline of Damascus, while another sent up a tower of flames and secondary blasts.

Syrian state news agency SANA said Israeli aircraft struck in three places: northeast of Jamraya, the town of Maysaloun on the Lebanese border and the nearby Dimas air base.

Editor: Yu Runze
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