Syrian state media reports on ‘Israeli aggression’ in northwest of country in what would be a rare daylight raid; Lebanese TV says target was a research center
Israeli jets reportedly carried out a strike on Sunday on a facility in northwest Syria allegedly used to produce and store chemical weapons.
Syrian state-media reported on what it called “Israeli aggression” in the Masyaf area. A military source quoted by the official SANA news agency said the “losses are only material.”
There was no comment from Israel, but the strike came just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel was continuously acting against Iran’s military activities in Syria.
“We will not stop taking action in Syria against Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence there,” he said in a statement from his office.
The reports came just before dusk, marking what would be a rare daylight raid. Most of the attacks Israel has acknowledged carrying out in Syria have been at night. Israel has not acknowledged all the strikes attributed to it in Syria.
Al-Mayadeen, a television channel associated with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, which is fighting alongside regime forces in Syria, said the target of the strike was a research center in the area.
The network also reported the airstrike was carried out from Lebanese airspace.
Reports on social media claimed the target of the strike was a facility belonging to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, near Masyaf in Hama province. Western officials have long associated CERS with the manufacture of chemical arms.
Pictures purportedly of the strike showed smoke rising from the site.
In September, Syria accused Israel of carrying out a strike on the facility that left two dead. The bombing came after opposition sources claimed that Iranian and Syrian specialists were working there to develop chemical weapons capability for missiles.
A senior member of the Syrian opposition, citing security officials still working for the regime at the time, told The Times of Israel in 2014 that Assad’s forces were stockpiling chemical substances and missiles carrying chemical warheads at the site, which was not made available to international inspectors tasked with ensuring the destruction of the weapons.
Last week, Syria blamed Israel for a bombing raid targeted Al-Nayrab airbase, adjacent to Aleppo’s international airport. The facility was identified in the past as a base for Iranian forces, including Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Syrian rebel forces claimed that 22 people, including nine Iranians, were killed in the strike, the Qatar-based al-Jazeera network reported Monday. That figure, which could not be confirmed, was significantly higher than an earlier report of nine deaths by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.
Suspected Israeli airstrikes have hit Syrian army positions near Damascus and in the central provinces of Homs and Hama in the past, including on July 8, when Israel was said to have carried out an airstrike on the T-4 military base near Homs, also thought to be used by IRGC fighters.