Damaskus, 26 Jumadil Akhir 1434/5 Mei 2013 (MINA) – Syrian state television has reported that a series of heavy explosions in the capital were caused by Israeli rocket strikes.
The blasts early Sunday morning (5/5) targeted a military research centre on the outskirts of the capital. The research centre in Jamraya was the target of an earlier Israeli strike in January, SANA reported as monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“The new Israeli attack is an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups which have been reeling from strikes by our noble army,” Syrian television said, referring to recent offensives by the forces of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, against the armed opposition.
The agency did not say whether there were any wounded or dead. Video footage uploaded onto the Internet by activists showed a huge ball of fire rising into the night sky.
A Damascus resident described the blasts to Al Jazeera, saying they felt like “an earthquake” and “unprecedented”.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials on Sunday’s explosions. “We don’t respond to this kind of report,” an Israeli military spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency.
The US State Department had no immediate comment and the Israeli embassy in Washington declined comment.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based watchdog group, has also reported several explosions in the capital and its surrounding countryside.
The Syrian state media claims, reported by the Reuters news agency, come after Israel confirmed that its air force hit a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah.
Israel has repeatedly warned that it is prepared to resort to force to prevent Syrian weapons, including chemical weapons, from reaching Hezbollah or groups.
US president Barack Obama said on Saturday, before the latest incident, that it was up to Israel to confirm or deny any strikes, but that the US coordinates very closely with Israel.
“The Israelis, justifiably, have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah,” Obama told the Spanish-language TV station Telemundo.
In recent days, there were signs of mounting tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.
In a warning to Israel earlier this week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his militia “is ready and has its hand on the trigger” in the event of an Israeli attack on any targets in Lebanon.
The Israeli military, meanwhile, called up several thousand reservists earlier this week for what it called a “surprise” military exercise on its border with Lebanon.(T/P08/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)