The Syrian state news agency SANA, citing initial reports, says Israeli missiles have targeted a military research center near the capital Damascus.
A Syrian activist group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported large explosions in the area of the Jamraya research center early today.
If confirmed, today’s strike would mark the third Israeli attack inside Syria this year. Israel has said it will not allow sophisticated weapons to flow from Syria to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, an ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Israeli officials were not immediately available to comment early today.
On Saturday, Israeli officials confirmed that a day earlier Israeli aircraft targeted a weapons shipment apparently bound for Hezbollah.
Friday’s strike, which one official said targeted a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles, also raised new concerns that the region’s most powerful military could be dragged into Syria’s civil war and spark a wider conflagration.
Fighting repeatedly has spilled across Syria’s borders into Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights during more than two years of conflict, while more than 1 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Washington is considering how to respond to indications that the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons in its civil war. President Barack Obama has described the use of such weapons as a “red line,” and the administration is weighing its options — including possible military action.
Israel has said it wants to stay out of the brutal Syria war but could inadvertently be drawn in as it tries to bolster its deterrence and prevent sophisticated weapons from flowing from Syria to Hezbollah or other extremist groups.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in mid-2006 that ended in a stalemate. Israel believes Hezbollah has restocked its arsenal with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated the Jewish state would be prepared to take military action to prevent the Islamic militant group from obtaining new weapons that could upset the balance of power.