Israeli Airstrike Hit Syrian Weapons Lab: Locals

Local sources have said a Syrian unconventional arms laboratory was the target of a Wednesday aerial offensive by Israel, but the Syrian army characterized the attack site close to Damascus as a "scientific research center," Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.

The army assertion contradicted earlier claims that Israeli warplanes had destroyed a Syrian military vehicle believed to be carrying antiaircraft weapons to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. Damascus blasted the strike as a violation of its territory and an "act of aggression."

The offensive received no formal acknowledgement from the Israeli government, but it followed days of talks involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the potential transport of chemical warfare materials and other arms within Syria, the New York Times reported on Thursday. Tel Aviv has said it would move to prevent any shipments to Hezbollah.

Israel in 2007 destroyed a Syrian facility believed to house an unfinished nuclear reactor.

The facility at Jamraya is believed to be key to the Assad regime's missile operations and to house a chemical arms installation,  Reuters quoted informed envoys in the region as saying. No indications have developed that chemical warfare agents were targeted in the attack.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday said a verified Israeli military move in Syria would be an "unprovoked" action in "the territory of a sovereign state" and an indefensible violation of international law, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The reported Israeli attack has prompted officials in Syria and Iran to warn of a possible reprisal, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

January 31, 2013
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Local sources have said a Syrian unconventional arms laboratory was the target of a Wednesday aerial offensive by Israel, but the Syrian army characterized the attack site close to Damascus as a "scientific research center," Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.