Israeli attacks are a 'declaration of war' says Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Mekdad after second strike in three days

With the second strike in three days, Israeli involvement in bloody civil war deepens

Israel has carried out a second series of air strikes in three days on Syria, this time hitting targets close to the capital, Damascus, and raising further fears of the conflict spreading across the region.

There were early reports that a military and scientific research centre at Jamraya, which the opposition claims has been used to produce chemical weapons, was among the locations attacked. State media reported that there had been a number of casualties.

However, it appears that the targets may have been stockpiles of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles which, Tel Aviv believes, may have been heading across the border to the Hezbollah militia. The first bombings, 48 hours earlier, were aimed at batches of the same weapons whose presence in Lebanon was said to have been described by the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a "game-changer".

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said the attacks were a "declaration of war" and that they invited retaliation. Faisal al-Mekdad warned "Israeli aggression opens the door to all possibilities", and that action would be taken "in our own time and way". The regime, which has claimed that an international conspiracy is trying to dismember the country by supporting the rebels, said in a statement that the air strikes were "direct support for terrorists".

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday expressed "grave concern" at the reports of Israeli strikes, but said the UN was unavailable to independently verify the incidents.

Ban's press office said he "calls on all sides to... act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict". The Syrian National Coalition opposition group condemned Israeli strikes inside Syria, and said the Jewish state had "taken advantage" of the conflict.

Amateur video footage in Damascus showed flames lighting up the night sky and sounds of multiple explosions lasting several minutes in the vicinity of Mount Qasioun, which houses a number of military installations.

Fighters from Hezbollah have been battling alongside the forces of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war. Israel, which fought an inconclusive war with the group seven years ago, has accused it of building up an arsenal of long-range missiles which can reach deep into the Jewish state.

The Fateh-110, with an elaborate guidance system, and sufficient range to reach Tel Aviv from south Lebanon, is much more sophisticated that anything held by Hezbollah so far, and large shipments are said to have arrived from Iran in the past three months.

Israeli military analysts say there are fears that Scud Ds – which, with a range of 422 miles, would be able to hit southern Israel from Lebanon – may also be destined for Hezbollah. The Israelis also carried out bombings inside Syria in January against a convoy carrying SA-17 anti-aircraft systems en route to Lebanon. The Israeli government has stated that it will not allow the delivery of advanced missiles to Hezbollah, using similar rhetoric to Barack Obama who declared that the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line".

No definite proof has so far emerged that weapons of mass destruction have actually been used in the conflict and the indications from Washington are that the US administration is keen to avoid direct military action. But military analysts point out that the raids by Israeli warplanes, and the Assad regime's inability to counter them, show that one argument against imposing a no-fly zone – the supposed effectiveness of Syrian air defences – could be brought into question.

Speaking shortly before yesterday's raids, President Obama insisted that Israel had a right to act. "The Israelis have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to a terrorist organisation like Hezbollah," he said.

Iran urged neighbouring countries to unite "in the face of Zionist aggression" and stated it was prepared to train President Assad's forces to resist foreign attacks.

The targets may have been a cache of advanced missiles destined for Hezbollah

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines