A top Syrian official called the latest Israeli airstrikes on the country a “declaration of war.” The announcement came on Sunday after a series of massive explosions illuminated the sky over Damascus, Syria’s capital.
The explosions reignited claims by Syria that Israel was launching airstrikes within the country. Officials added that the latest target was a military research facility located outside Damascus.
Syrian authorities have vowed to retaliate against Israel, though they did not specify what action they plan to take against their southern neighbor. The Israeli military would not confirm or deny the claims of a new airstrike.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “grave concern” about reports of Israeli airstrikes in Syria, though he stressed that the UN is not “in a position to independently verify what has occurred.” Ban’s press office added:
“[He] calls on all sides to… act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict.”
Sunday’s explosions near Damascus are the third time Israel has been accused of launching attacks inside Syria so far this year. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal al-Mekdad, also warned on Sunday that “Israeli aggression opens the door to all possibilities.” He added that action will be taken for the attack “in our own time and way.”
Amateur video footage of the reported Israeli airstrike near Damascus showed flames lighting up the night sky while multiple explosions can be heard, lasing several minutes. The incident happened near Mount Qasioun, which is home to several military installations.
While Syria claimed the target was a research facility, some reports suggested the facility actually housed some of the regime’s chemical weapons. However, another report suggested the compound was where the Fateh-110 missiles were being held. The missiles include an elaborate guidance system that can reach Tel Aviv from south Lebanon. Israel has accused Syria of building up an arsenal of the long-range weapons which can reach far into the Jewish state.
It is not yet clear what the possible retaliation will be by Syria for the reported Israeli airstrikes.