Syrian rebels claimed overnight Friday that they had taken control of a nuclear facility that was bombed by Israel in 2007.
In messages posted online, rebel sources described the site as a “nuclear research facility.”
The al-Kibar site, located in the Deir ez-Zor region of eastern Syria, is believed to have previously housed a nuclear reactor, which according to foreign reports, was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force.
Israel has never admitted to carrying out the 2007 airstrike, dubbed Operation Orchard, and Syria has denied that the facility was military in purpose.
But former US president George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser at the time, Elliot Abrams, revealed last year in an interview that then-prime minister Ehud Olmert unilaterally decided to strike the Syrian reactor. Olmert did so, according to Abrams, after Bush informed him that the Americans would not attack the facility.
On Friday, some 165 people died in clashes between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebel fighters, according to Al Jazeera. In reported scud missile attacks in Aleppo, at least 29 people were killed, activists said, and dozens more were feared to be trapped under rubble.
The UN estimates that nearly 70,000 people have died in the 23-month-old Syrian civil war.