The Syrian media is reporting that Israeli warplanes conducted a military strike against an installation near the Syrian capital of Damascus. The report claims that the nation’s air defenses shielded the installation from the majority of the attack, but ammunition depots in Jamraya near a scientific facility were hit by Israeli missiles.
The operation is another in a series of strikes conducted against Syria since 2011, many of which were aimed at preventing the transfer of advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. The Syrian military claimed the Israeli attack emanated from Lebanese airspace.
According to the BBC, the scientific facility near the attack is a branch of the Scientific Studies and Research Center and has been accused by many Western nations of producing chemical weapons. A Western intelligence agency revealed the accusations to the BBC last year, and claim it is in violation of an agreement by President Bashar al-Assad to destroy the nation’s chemical munitions following a 2013 Sarin attack on Damascus. The U.N. is currently investigating the most recent attacks, though Russia blocked a statement originating in the Security Council condemning Assad’s use of the forbidden weapons.
Contrary to U.S. intelligence, the Syrian government paints the facility as a civilian research institution. The proximity of the SSRC facility to the location of the attack makes sense, as the Syrian government has been accused of dropping chlorine bombs on rebel-held areas in the country six times in the past month. War crimes experts with the UN are investigating the chlorine attacks and a group of 25 countries has established a partnership meant to hold those responsible for chemical strikes to task.
The Syrian government continues to deny the chlorine attacks, and condemned the Israeli strikes in a statement: “The general command of the armed forces holds Israel fully responsible for the dangerous consequences of its repeated, aggressive and uncalculated adventures.”