A series of massive explosions illuminated the dark sky over Damascus early Sunday, igniting renewed claims that Israel has launched attacks into the war-torn country.
Syria’s government said the explosions were the second Israeli airstrike in three days. The latest target, officials said, was a military research facility outside the Syrian capital. A top Syrian official told CNN in an exclusive interview that the attack was a “declaration of war” by Israel.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “grave concern” over the reports of Israeli airstrikes in Syria Sunday but stressed that the U.N. is not “in a position to independently verify what has occurred,” his spokesman said.
The United States was not given any warning before air strikes in Syria against what Western and Israeli officials say were weapons headed for Hezbollah militants, a U.S. intelligence official said on Sunday.
Without confirming that Israel was behind the attacks, the U.S. intelligence official said that the United States was essentially told of the air raids “after the fact” and was notified as the bombs went off.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned against escalating the situation in Syria after Israel struck targets near Damascus on Sunday, targeting what its officials said were Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah militants.
Israeli officials said the raid, the second in 48 hours, was not connected to Syria’s civil war. It was aimed, rather, at stopping Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, acquiring weapons that could be used to strike Tel Aviv if Israel followed through on threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.