Syria: Israeli airstrike said to be linked to chemical weapons facility

It's been reported that Israeli warplanes have struck a Syrian government facility near Hama, linked to a chemical weapons programme, leaving 2 soldiers dead so far

7 September 2017, 9:49am
The reported air strike on Syrian government facility comes as Israel is conducting its biggest military exercise in 19 years on its northern border. Photo: Oliver Weiken/EPA
The reported air strike on Syrian government facility comes as Israel is conducting its biggest military exercise in 19 years on its northern border. Photo: Oliver Weiken/EPA
The claims, which could not be confirmed immediately, were reported on most Hebrew media sources. The air raid was reported to have occurred overnight, on the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre near Hama. Syrian opposition figures claimed that four Israeli warplanes were involved in the strike.

Syria’s army have reported, in a statement, that the airstrike killed two people and caused material damage near the town of Masyaf and warned against the “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region”.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military, however, Israel has launched various strikes during the Syrian war, primarily against arms convoys and weapons storage sites associated with a key ally of Assad, Hezbollah.

In August, former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel suggested that Israel had conducted a number of airstrikes on weapons convoys, which were destined for the Hezbollah over the past five years.

The reported air raid comes as Israel is in the process of conducting its biggest military exercise in 19 years on the northern border, involving tens of thousands of soldiers, which has been widely described as a dress rehearsal for a future war with Hezbollah including civilian evacuation drills.

Even before the outbreak of the war in Syria, the bombed centre was on Israel’s radar. Director of the Israeli National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau in 2010 called for the destruction of centre, alleging it had provided weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas.

Israel’s 10-day military exercise, which hit the ground running on Tuesday, was described as an exercise in rapid military escalation, requiring forces to defend Israel against multiple terrorist infiltrations in the north, a drill that Israeli officers have admitted was being closely observed by Hezbollah.