Israel informed US before Syria border air strike

Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) Israeli officials informed their US counterparts prior to an air strike along the Syria-Lebanon border, media reports said Thursday.

The Israeli air force's target Tuesday night was a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons and Russian-made anti-aircraft SA17 missiles from Syria to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Xinhua cited the New York Times as saying.

No official comment was made by the Israeli Defense Forces or any official.

The Syrian army said Israel bombed a "scientific research centre" northwest of the capital city of Damascus.

It said two people were killed in the attack and five were injured. The facility was also damaged.

The Syrian army denied that the target was a convoy delivering weapons.

The army's statement, cited by the official SANA news agency, also said the Israeli jets arrived from the north, "flying at a low altitude and below radars".

It said the site has been targeted by "armed terrorist groups" in recent months, and also accused Israel of meddling in Syria's internal affairs.

The Syrian government has been using the term "armed terrorist groups" to describe rebel groups opposing the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

"This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people," Xinhua quoted the Syrian army statement as saying.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials believe two attacks were carried out by the Israeli air force. They hit a weapons convoy and a military facility.

According to Lebanese media, the site of the second attack manufactured chemical weapons.

The last full-blown armed conflict took place in 2006, when Israel carried out a military operation against Hezbollah and its infrastructure in Lebanon.

Earlier in the week, the Israeli army deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in the north.

During a cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned cabinet members of the risks of Syrian chemical weapons making their way to Hezbollah.

Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said: "Nobody has any idea what's going to happen in Syria. This is happening in a place with a huge weapons arsenal, some of which are not conventional."

In 2007, a mysterious attack on a site deemed to be a nuclear reactor in Syria was attributed to Israel, which did not formally acknowledge any connection to it, Xinhua said.

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