- Syria accuse Israel of attacks on airport and town near Lebanese border
- Israel has said it will ‘prevent transfer of weapons to Hezbollah’ in Lebanon
- Syrian army claims Israel is helping rebels fighting President al-Assad
- UN predicts that there could be 3.6m Syrian refugees by the end of 2015
Syria has accused Israel of launching several airstrikes near the Lebanese border, including Damascus’ international airport.
Israel has launched a series of air strikes inside Syria throughout the three-year civil war, but has maintained their purpose have been to prevent weapons from reaching Lebanese islamist group Hezbollah.
Both targeted sites, Damascus’ International Airport and the town of Dimas were used for military purposes and were used to store weapons, according to reports.
Syrians walk past destroyed buildings in Aleppo’s industrial area on the government-controlled side of the war-torn city
‘Both were military sites, and weapons were being stored there,’ Rami Abdel Rahma, director of British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said.
‘This afternoon, the Israeli enemy targeted two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the Damascus International Airport,’ the army said in a statement.
It said the strikes caused damage but that nobody was hurt.
Both civilian and military aircraft operate at the airport, which lies southeast of Damascus near flashpoint areas including Eastern Ghouta, large parts of which are in rebel hands.
Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz refused to comment directly on Sunday’s incident, but made thinly veiled references to Hezbollah when questioned.
Air raid: Syria has accused Israel of bombing its main international airport (file photo) and the town of Dimas near the Lebanese border
‘We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organisations,’ Steinitz said in a radio interview when questioned about the airstrikes.
The Syrian army reiterated its claim that the Jewish state is helping rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
‘This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere,’ the army said.
Sunday’s air raids proved ‘Israel’s direct support for terrorism in Syria,’ it said, using the regime’s collective term to refer to peaceful opponents, armed rebels and jihadists fighting in Syria.
Later, the Syrian foreign ministry said it had asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel, describing the strikes as ‘a heinous crime against Syria’s sovereignty’, according to state news agency SANA.
In the past year, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of raids on Syrian targets and on positions of the Lebanese Shiite militant Hezbollah, an ally of both Syria and arch-foe Iran.
In March, Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian army positions just hours after a bomb wounded four Israeli soldiers on the Golan, one severely.
On Monday, more than 30 humanitarian groups launched an appeal for countries to take in some 180,000 refugees from Syria, with the UN refugee agency predicting that the number of people fleeing the fighting could rise to nearly 3.6 million by the end of 2015.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 3.2 million refugees were already listed in neighbouring countries after three years of fighting, with Turkey and Lebanon hosting more than a million each.
The Syrian conflict, which evolved from a pro-democracy movement into a full-blown civil war, is estimated to have killed more than 200,000 people and forced half the population to flee their homes.