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Syrian TV confirmed early Sunday that Israeli rockets had hit a military research centre in a suburb of the capital Damascus a few hours before dawn.
“The state terrorism practiced by Israel in shelling the scientific research center is nothing but a desperate attempt to ease the pressure on the armed groups that are being squashed under the heavy blows of the Syrian army,” it said.
Explosions rocked the northwestern Jamraya suburb early Sunday, Syrian TV said, adding that casualties were feared.
According to a Xinhua reporter, four powerful explosions were heard in Damascus before daybreak Sunday. The blasts happened in swift succession and were heard across the capital.
Sunday’s attack marks the second time in three days, and the third in five months, that Israel launches attacks against Syrian targets. US officials confirmed the earlier attack on Friday and anonymous Israeli sources confirmed that an attack had targeted a convoy of trucks carrying missile parts allegedly to Lebanon.
In January, an Israeli airstrike targeted the same military research center in the area of Jamraya.
According to Syrian media, the latest airstrike was aimed at boosting the morale of the armed rebels after their defeats over the past week.
“The Israeli entity has used its missiles to support terrorism through targeting the research center,” Syrian TV said.
Mark Sleboda, a senior lecturer and researcher on the subjects of international relations and security studies in the department of international relations and centre for conservative studies in the sociology faculty of Moscow State University, says the Israeli attack is a violation of international law.
“How much longer will the international community and the Security Council stand by and allow Israel to violate international law with such arrogant impunity under the shield of the US veto?” Sleboda says.
Camille Alexandre Otrakji, a Canadian researcher who has established a Syria think tank and a number of online forums, suspects that Friday’s attack may have been a way for Israel to test the regional response to its actions.
“Since there was no outrage in the Arab World Israel felt more confident that it can execute a more daring attack on Damascus without fearing negative repercussions,” Otrakji told The BRICS Post.
Otrakji says that when Saddam Hussein launched dozens of missiles at Israel in 1991, it did not retaliate because Washington did not approve a strike on Baghdad fearing it could mobilize the Arab street against the ongoing US-led coalition’s war against Iraq.
“Obviously Israel and perhaps the United States today feel that there is less resistance in the Arab world to Israeli involvement. Syrian opposition rebels and their supporters have not been very selective when it comes to the source of weapons and military support they have been demanding to help them fight the Syrian government’s forces,” Otrakji says.
US and Israeli officials have not yet commented on the Sunday attack reported by Syrian TV.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Xinhua