The Israel Air Force (IAF) struck several critical military facilities in Syria, killing dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace, a high-ranking Syrian military official said in an interview with the New York Times.
AFP quoted an Iranian general who said that the arms Israel targeted in Syria were not from Tehran. The news agency also reported Monday that an NGO claimed the strike on Syria killed at least 15 soldiers.
Israel refused to confirm it was behind the attack, which was the second in three days. The strikes are widely seen as attempts to prevent the Syrian government from transferring weapons to Hizbullah in neighboring Lebanon.
According to the Times, "rebels, opposition activists and residents said the strikes hit bases of the elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to a military research center that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons facility."
An unnamed American official also reportedly said that a more limited strike early Friday at Damascus International Airport was also meant to destroy weapons being sent from Iran to Hizbullah.
Analysts said that Hizbullah, which is under direct Iranian control, might attack Israel in retaliation, possibly drawing Lebanon into the conflict. However, they noted, both Hizbullah and Syria's Assad are currently "overstretched" as they fight Syrian rebel forces.
Israel has deployed two Iron Dome missile-defense batteries to protect its northern zone and the IDF has forbidden internal passenger flights to and from Haifa.
Iran’s IRNA news agency said Israel could expect a “crushing” retaliation from Syria or “the resistance,” meaning Hizbullah.