Israeli Airstrike Targets Suspected Chemical Factory West of Syria

تم نشره في Thu 7 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Thu 7 September / Sep 2017. 06:11 PM
  • A pro-Syrian government blogger posted an image purportedly showing the strike's aftermath - (Ivan Sidorenko)

CAPITALS — The Syrian army says Israeli jets have attacked a site in the west of the country where Western powers suspect chemical weapons are being produced.

An army statement says rockets fired from Lebanese airspace hit a military post near Masyaf, killing two soldiers.

A monitoring group says they struck a scientific research centre and base storing surface-to-surface missiles.

Israel, which has carried out clandestine attacks on weapons sites in Syria before, has not commented.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to discuss the reports, saying it did not comment on operational matters.

The attack comes a day after UN human rights investigators said they had “concluded” a Syrian Air Force jet had dropped a bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in April, killing at least 83 people.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has said the incident in Khan Sheikhoun - which prompted the US to launch a missile strike on an airbase - was a "fabrication".

He has also insisted his forces destroyed their entire chemical arsenal under a deal brokered by the US and Russia after a Sarin attack outside Damascus in 2013.

The Syrian army said rockets had struck the base near Masyaf, about 35km (22 miles) west of the city of Hama, at 02:42 on Thursday (23:42 GMT on Wednesday), causing "material damage" and the deaths of two personnel.

It accused Israel of attacking "in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale" of the jihadist group ISIS and warned Israel about "the dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the rockets had hit a Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) facility and a military camp nearby used to store short-range surface-to-surface missiles.

A Western intelligence agency told the BBC in May that three branches of the SSRC - at Masyaf, and at Dummar and Barzeh, both just outside Damascus - were allegedly being used to produce chemical munitions in violation of the 2013 deal.

The SSRC is promoted by the Syrian government as a civilian research institute but the US accuses the agency of focusing on the development of non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.