Lebanese and Syrian media are reporting that large explosions near Damascus are the result of Israeli bombing raids at 2 am this morning. An Israeli spokesman refused to comment on the reports, but the Israeli government has made it clear in recent days that it will not allow Syria to transfer weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
According to Debka, “Arab sources reported a series of explosions and fires north of Damascus early Sunday. They say Israeli rockets also hit two 4th Division Republican Guard battalions. The 4th Division is the main Syrian military unit buttressing the regime. It is commanded by President Bashar Assad’s brother, Gen. Maher Assad.”
GerardDirect has long been reporting that the threat of Hezbollah against Israel is a spark in search of a gas leak. Hezbollah is a client of Iran and the recipient of massive supplies of weapons and other military support (including over 100,000 rockets and missiles, many of which are aimed at Israeli population centers).
The transfer of more weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon therefore represents a serious threat to the fragile stability of the region and the security of Israel. Over the last few days, Israel has carried out two bombing raids on military sites in Syria and this mornings explosions may well be a continuation of those raids.
Reports from GerardDirect sources indicate that the explosions near Damascus were extremely powerful, lighting up the night sky and echoing throughout the region. Damascus is only 25 miles from the Israeli border, so the presence of major weapons there, including chemical and biological weapons, cannot be tolerated, particularly if they are being transferred to the terrorist organization, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel’s other northern neighbor.
GerardDirect will be following this story closely and reporting updates in the situation on our website.
—- Ilana Freedman, Editor
Explosions rock Damascus, Syria blames Israel
Powerful explosions struck the outskirts of Damascus early on Sunday, sending columns of fire into the night sky, and Syrian state television said Israeli rockets had struck a military facility just north of the capital.
Israel declined to comment on the attack, but the blasts occurred a day after an Israeli official said his country had carried out an air strike targeting a consignment of missiles in Syria intended for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
One of the sites hit on Sunday, the Jamraya military research center, was also targeted by Israel in January.
“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 President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebels.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted eyewitnesses in the area as saying they saw jets in the sky at the time of the explosions.
It said the blasts hit Jamraya as well as a nearby ammunition depot. Other activists said a missile brigade and two Republican Guard battalions may also have been targeted in the heavily militarized area just north of Damascus.
Video footage uploaded onto the Internet by activists showed a series of explosions. One lit up the skyline over the city, while another sent up a tower of flames and secondary blasts.
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 Reuters.
The Jewish state has repeatedly made clear it is prepared to use force to prevent advanced weapons from Syria reaching Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah guerrillas, who fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006. Assad and Hezbollah are allied to Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy.
With Assad battling a more than 2-year-old insurgency, the Israelis also worry that the Sunni Islamist rebels could loot his arsenals and eventually hit the Jewish state, ending four decades of relative cross-border calm.
The U.S. State Department and Pentagon had no immediate comment and the Israeli Embassy in Washington declined comment.
The uprising against Assad began with mainly peaceful protests that were met with force and grew into a bloody civil war in which the United Nations says at least 70,000 people have been killed.
Assad has lost control of large areas of north and eastern Syria, and is battling rebels on the fringes of Damascus.
But his forces have launched counter-offensives in recent weeks against the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels around the capital and near the city of Homs, which links Damascus with the Mediterranean heartland of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.