Israel hits Syrian 'chem facility' | The Daily Star
12:34 AM, September 08, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:36 AM, September 08, 2017

Israel hits Syrian 'chem facility'

Two killed; Damascus warns of dangerous repercussions



Syria's army accused Israeli warplanes of hitting one of its positions yesterday, killing two people in an attack that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.

The site near the Syrian town of Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria's allies Iran and the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah.

Israel has previously carried out strikes believed to be targeting the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with the Jewish state in 2006.

Yesterday's strike hit a training camp and a branch of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), an institution that Washington has accused of helping develop the sarin gas used in a deadly attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun in April.

President Bashar al-Assad's government has blasted such accusations as "fabrications," and Syria's army yesterday did not mention the SSRC in its statement on the Israeli strikes.

"Israeli warplanes at 2:42 am today fired a number of missiles from Lebanese air space, targeting one of our military positions near Masyaf, which led to material damage and the deaths of two members of the site," the statement said.

"Syria's army warns of the serious repercussions of such acts of aggression on the security and stability of the region," it added.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also said the strikes hit the SSRC, though it could not confirm what weaponry is produced there.

"There are Iranian experts using the research centre there. Hezbollah also uses the facility," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

"The research centre was definitely damaged in the strikes. There is a huge fire emanating from a weapons warehouse where missiles were being stored," he added.

Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and has accused the group's sponsor Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon.

"Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the raids yesterday.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying food entered Syria's Deir Ezzor city yesterday, the first time supplies have been delivered via a newly opened road after government troops broke a jihadist siege.

A local journalist contributing to AFP confirmed that a convoy of 40 trucks carrying food had entered the city, two days after the army and allied forces breached an Islamic State group siege.

"This is the first convoy of foodstuff to enter the city for nearly three years," said Mouin al-Akl, an official with the Syrian Trade Association, which contributed the supplies to be distributed to local shops for sale.

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