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Update: Syria Confirms Israeli Strike

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Update:

An Israeli soldier stands guard next to an Iron Dome rocket interceptor deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa on Monday. Any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons is slipping as it battles an armed uprising could trigger Israeli military strikes, Israel's vice premier said on Sunday. (Photo: Baz Ratner/ Reuters) The Syrian army claimed Wednesday night that unofficial reports of an Israeli airstrike across the Syrian border earlier in the day are true.

Officials said Israeli jets crossed into Syria below the radar level at dawn and hit a military research center in Jamraya, near Damascus.

"Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research center 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 on Wednesday evening.

"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.

The army added that two site workers were killed in the strike.

Israel and the United States have both declined to comment.

Earlier:

Mysterious Israeli Airstrike Sparks Worry on Syria/Lebanon Border

Media reports Wednesday morning, littered with "unnamed sources" and "unconfirmed reports" from across the region, reveal that something from the air—seemingly an Israeli missile—did strike something on the ground—a Syrian military convoy, according to sources—near the border between Syria and Lebanon in the early hours of the day.

CNN, citing US officials in Washington, reports:

Israeli fighter jets attacked a convoy along the Lebanese-Syrian border overnight, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday, as tensions mounted over the potential fallout from Syria's protracted civil war.

The official said the United States does not believe the airstrike was linked to growing concerns about Syria's chemical weapons.

"It was unrelated to chemical weapons, we see no nexus," the official said Wednesday. The strike is thought to have hit a "target of opportunity."

Slightly earlier, The Guardian put out a report, which read in part:

Israeli warplanes have attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border, according to unconfirmed reports, after several days of heightened warnings from government officials over Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The Reuters news agency cited a western diplomat and a security source as saying there had been "a hit" in the border area. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it had no comment on the report.

The report followed claims in the Lebanese media that IDF fighter planes had flown sorties over Lebanon's airspace from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning.

And reporting from the BBC adds:

Unnamed sources who spoke to Reuters and AFP news agencies differed as to whether the convoy was hit in Lebanon or in Syria, although correspondents say an attack on the Syrian side would cause a major diplomatic incident.

One source denied that there had been any attack on Lebanese territory.

Iran has said it will treat any Israeli attack on Syria as an attack on itself.

The attack came days after Israel moved its Iron Dome defence system to the north of the country.

Correspondents say Israel fears that Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah could obtain anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, thus strengthening its ability to respond to Israeli air strikes.

Israel has also joined the US in expressing concern that Syria's presumed chemical weapons stockpile could be taken over by militant groups.

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Israeli radio on Sunday that any sign that Syria was losing its grip on the weapons could lead to Israeli action, even a pre-emptive strike.

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