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Lebanon says no Israeli strike near Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 30 (UPI) — Israeli warplanes struck deep in Syria Wednesday, with the Syrian government saying a research facility was hit and others saying a weapons cargo was targeted.

Two people were killed and five were injured in the dawn attack on what Syrian officials said was a scientific research facility outside Damascus, the Los Angeles Times said Syrian media reported.

The New York Times reported unnamed American officials said they believed the Israeli planes targeted a convoy carrying antiaircraft weaponry on the outskirts of Damascus that was intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon. The United States was notified about the attack, which the Syrian government called “Israeli arrogance and aggression,” the New York newspaper’s sources said.

Israeli and U.S. military and government officials had no comment on the reports, while Lebanese officials said they had no knowledge of any Israeli attacks at a time when concerns run deep that Syria’s supply of chemical weapons could fall into the wrong hands as the government of Bashar Assad battles a nearly two-year insurrection, the Los Angeles newspaper reported.

The newspaper said Syrian officials called unconfirmed reports by Arab news outlets that the Israelis hit a convoy near the Syrian-Lebanese border that was attempting to deliver a shipment of weapons to Hezbollah “baseless.”

“It has become clear to everyone that Israel is the motivator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts that target Syria and its resistant people,” the Syrian government said in a statement.

“Israeli warplanes violated our airspace at dawn, bombing directly one of the research scientific centers in the Jimraya district in rural Damascus,” the Syrian statement said, labeling the attack a “breach of Syrian sovereignty.”

“The Syrian government points out to the international community that this Israeli arrogance and aggression is dangerous for Syrian sovereignty and stresses that such criminal acts will not weaken Syria’s role nor will discourage Syrians from continuing to support resistance movements and just Arab causes, particularly the Palestinian issue.”

Lebanese security sources had told The (Beirut) Daily Star there had been no bombing activity inside Lebanon. The sources confirmed, however, the Lebanese army had registered increased violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli jets, the newspaper said.

Reports of the alleged airstrike came just days after Israel expressed concern Hezbollah has established a number of bases near chemical weapons stockpiles inside Syria and Israeli officials fear the weapons may fall into militant hands.

Reports out of Beirut said Israeli fighter jets conducted three incursions into Lebanese airspace overnight, reported.

Since Friday, Israeli air force warplanes have violated Lebanon’s airspace a number of times, The Daily Star said, adding about seven planes were spotted flying over the coastal city of Sidon and the Khaled area Tuesday afternoon.

A statement issued by the Lebanese army said four Israeli jets were spotted flying over southern Lebanon Tuesday afternoon and four others entered Lebanese airspace 5 hours later, Maariv said.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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