BEIRUT (AP) — Israeli warplanes struck a military position near the Mediterranean coast in western Syria early Thursday, killing two soldiers and causing material damage, the Syrian army said.
The airstrike targeted a facility near the town of Masyaf that some said was tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program, in a stronghold of President Bashar Assad that is also heavily protected by the Russians.
In a statement, the Syrian army said the Israeli warplanes fired several missiles while in Lebanese air space, and warned of the “dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region.”
There was no immediate comment from Israel, which has rarely confirmed or commented on such strikes.
While largely staying out of the Syrian civil war, Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces. Israel has also struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Assad, not wanting to draw Israel into his country’s war, has never responded.
Thursday’s air raid came a day after a U.N. probe found the Syrian government responsible for a chemical attack in April in northern Syria that killed more than 80 people, saying it was one of 20 chemical weapons attacks in the past four years carried out by the Syrian government. The U.S. fired missiles at a Syrian air base in response to April’s attack.
It was not immediately clear if the facility struck Thursday was used for the production or storage of chemical arms. Syria denies having or using such weapons.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said two facilities were hit in Thursday’s airstrike, a scientific research center and a nearby military base where short-range surface-to-surface missiles are stored. He said the attack killed two people and wounded five.
“Many explosions were heard in the area after the air raid,” said Abdurrahman, whose group relies on a network of activists across the country. He said some of the blasts may have been secondary explosions from a missile storage facility being hit.
He said Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and Iranian military officials often visit the site, adding that those killed and wounded were Syrians.
A local opposition media activist said the facility that was struck is a factory that produces missiles…