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Has the Holy War begun? Israel carries out airstrikes in Syria; two killed

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Syrian army has confirmed an Israeli airstrike against a military research center near Damascus, killing two people. Israeli jets crossed into Syria below radar level and carried out airstrikes against military targets.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's not yet known as to what the exact nature of the target of the air strike was. Syrian state media says that the strikes targeted a military research center near Damascus. Regional security sources told international news agencies that the target was a convoy of trucks, allegedly carrying anti-aircraft missiles for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research centre in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense," the army's general command said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
 
The strike came "after terrorist groups made several failed attempts in the past months to take control of the site," the statement added. "Terrorist groups" are the term President Bashar al-Assad's government uses for rebel fighters.

Jets entered the Syrian airspace via Mount Hermon, or Jabal el-Sheikh in Arabic, the army said. "They... carried out an act of aggression, bombarding the site, causing large-scale material damage and destroying the building," state television quoted the military as saying.

Two site workers were killed in the strike and five others wounded.

The Syrian army and Hezbollah have both denied earlier reports that the overnight air strike had targeted a weapons convoy from Syria to the armed group in Lebanon. News agencies quoted U.S. and regional officials as saying that Israel had conducted an air strike inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks.

"The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," one Western diplomat said.

A source among rebels fighting Assad said an air strike around dawn blasted a convoy on a mountain track about five kilometers south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border.

Israel had allegedly been planning for days leading up to the air strike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, saying the shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically "game-changing" in the hands of Hezbollah.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the strike.

Hezbollah has denied the report, terming the Israeli strikes a "raid of aggression" and criticizing the international community for not speaking out against it.

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