The Israeli military has reportedly carried out two airstrikes inside Syrian territory. According to Syrian state television, the latest attack was aimed at a scientific research center near Damascus.
Several hours after reports of an overnight airstrike on a convoy near the Syria-Lebanon border believed to be carrying anti-aircraft missiles, Syrian state television said that Israel had also struck a research center at dawn near Damascus, destroying the building and killing at least two people.
Syrian state television, quoting a statement by the Syrian army, said that the center was "in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defense."
Israeli warplanes attacked the site "after terrorist groups made several failed attempts in the past months to take control of the site," the statement added, referring to opposition groups who have been engaged in an armed conflict against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government for nearly two years.
The Syrian army denied the reports of the Israeli airstrike on the convoy overnight, which Western and regional sources had told the media earlier in the day.
The Israeli government has not commented on either military action reported on Wednesday.
Israel's preemptive military campaign
Initial reports did not divulge the names of security and diplomatic sources who had spoke on the condition of anonymity regarding the offensive.
A Lebanese security official denied the claim that the airstrike had occurred within Lebanon, but could not confirm whether the Israeli military had struck a target across the border in Syria. He added that Israel had increased its activity in Lebanon's airspace over the past week.
#links'The civil war in Syria has led to increased tension in neighboring countries, as refugees stream in by the thousands and shells occasionally stray across the borders. Israeli officials have expressed concern over the possibility of the Islamist militant group, Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, gaining access to chemical weapons from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The possibility of Hezbollah obtaining Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from the Syrian government - as was reportedly the target in Wednesday's early morning attack - has also caught Israel's attention. Gains in anti-aircraft power could shift the power balance Israel has maintained against its enemies in the Middle East, as had been the case during the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006.
Shortly before Wednesday's attack, Israeli Major General Amir Eshel told a conference the military was conducting a pre-emptive campaign to protect itself.
"This campaign is 24/7, 365 days a year," said Major-General Amir Eshel. "We are taking action to reduce the immediate threats, to create better conditions in which we will be able to win the wars, when they happen."
Earlier in the week, a battery of its "Iron Dome" rocket defense system was relocated to the city of Haifa, located in the north of the country.
kms/dr (AP, Reuters, dapd)