Israel raids on Syria killed at least 42 soldiers: NGO
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
n this still image taken from video footage by Lebanon's Al Manar TV, affiliated with Hezbollah, smoke rises from what is purportedly an ammunition depot following an air strike in Dimas May 5, 2013. REUTERS Photosraeli air raids on three military sites near Damascus killed at least 42 soldiers at the weekend, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an updated toll today.
"At least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The Britain-based watchdog group had earlier given a toll of at least 15 soldiers killed.
Calls for restraint after Israel raids on Syria
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appealed for restraint after Israeli air strikes on targets near Damascus which prompted Syrian officials to warn "missiles are ready" to retaliate.
The Israeli raids hit military sites outside the Syrian capital early Sunday, in the second such reported attack in 48 hours targeting weapons thought to be destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
The strikes have raised new concerns of a regional spillover of Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 70,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.
"The secretary-general calls on all sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
"The secretary-general urges respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region, and adherence to all relevant Security Council resolutions," he added.
Ban spoke by telephone with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, whose 22-member bloc demanded UN Security Council intervention to stop such Israeli attacks.
Egypt condemned the raids as a "violation" of international law, Britain warned of "increasing danger" to the Middle East, while the Syrian regime's main regional ally Iran said it would shorten the existence of the Jewish state.
The National Coalition, the war-torn country's umbrella opposition group, also condemned the attack while accusing President Bashar al-Assad's regime of complicity by weakening the army in its battle with Syria's people.
Damascus said in a letter to the Security Council that Israeli warplanes launched an "aggression" at 1:40 am on Sunday (2240 GMT Saturday) by firing missiles against three Syrian army positions.
A diplomatic source in Beirut told AFP the sites were the Jamraya military facility, a nearby weapons depot and an anti-aircraft unit in Sabura, west of the capital.
The letter said claims Syria was transferring anything were "unfounded" and accused Israel of coordinating with "terrorist groups" -- the regime term for rebels who have been fighting to oust Assad.
The official Al-Ikhbariyah television quoted unnamed sources as saying Syrian forces were ready to retaliate if new "violations" occur.
"The Syrian missiles are ready to strike specific targets in case of any (further) violations," it said quoting the unidentified sources.
Sunday's strike came about 48 hours after a reported Israeli raid on a weapons storage facility at Damascus airport.
Any arms Israel targeted in Syria not Iranian: General
A top Iranian general said any arms Israel targeted in Syria did not come from the Islamic republic, in remarks published on the Revolutionary Guards website on Monday.
Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri "denied Western and Israeli media reports that an Iranian weapons depot has been targeted in Syria," the website reported.
"The Syrian government does not need Iran's military aid, and these sorts of reports are propaganda and psychological war," added the deputy chief of the armed forces.
A senior Israeli source said the Jewish state carried out an air strike near Damascus before dawn on Sunday, targeting Iranian missiles destined for Lebanon's Hezbollah in the second such raid on Syria in three days.
The attack targeted a facility just northwest of the Syrian capital, very close to the site of a similar attack late in January which was implicitly confirmed by Israel, the source said.