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 Syria Says Israel Bombed Military Center near Damascus as Reports Say Arms Convoy Hit near Lebanon

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PostSubject: Syria Says Israel Bombed Military Center near Damascus as Reports Say Arms Convoy Hit near Lebanon   Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:45 pm

The Syrian army said that an Israeli air strike at dawn on Wednesday targeted a military research center in Jamraya, near Damascus, after several media reports said Israeli warplanes bombed a weapons convoy near the border with Lebanon.

Residents who spoke to Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, however, said the strike targeted a non-conventional weapons research center some 15 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of the Syrian capital.

"Israeli fighter jets violated our air space at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research center in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense," the Syrian army's general command said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

The strike came "after terrorist groups made several failed attempts in the past months to take control of the site," the statement added of rebel groups fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace via Mount Hermon, or Jabal el-Sheikh in Arabic, at low altitude and under the radar, the army said.

"They... carried out an act of aggression, bombarding the site, causing large-scale material damage and destroying the building," state television quoted the military as saying.

The army added that two site workers were killed in the strike.

Residents told AFP that six rockets hit the complex, leaving it partially destroyed, causing a fire and killing two people.

"This assault is one of a long list of acts of aggression and criminality against the Arabs and Muslims," said the army's statement.

The army denied earlier reports that Israeli forces had launched an air strike overnight on a weapons convoy from Syria near the border with Lebanon.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, security sources told AFP earlier on Wednesday that Israeli forces carried out a strike overnight on a weapons convoy coming from Syria in the Lebanon-Syria border area.

"The Israeli air force blew up a convoy which had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon," one source said, without giving a precise location for the attack.

The source said the convoy was believed to be carrying weapons but did not specify what type.

A second security source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, also told AFP that Israeli warplanes had hit a convoy allegedly carrying weapons to Lebanon but said the incident occurred just inside Syria.

"It was an armed convoy traveling towards Lebanon but it was hit on the Syrian side of the border at around 2330 GMT," the source said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports.

Lebanon's National News Agency later on Wednesday denied that an Israeli strike had taken place.

The Associated Press quoted U.S. and regional officials as saying that Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria overnight near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks.

The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hizbullah in Lebanon. They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically "game-changing" in the hands of Hizbullah.

more here: Naharnet

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