Syria called on the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel Sunday, hours after Damascus alleged Israeli planes struck two sites near Damascus.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it sent letters to the UN Security Council and to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accusing Israel of carrying out the air raids to cover up its own internal problems and calling for action against Israel to ensure the attacks do not continue.
“The Syrian government called for imposing deterring sanctions on Israel, which did not hide its policy in supporting terrorism, calling also for taking all procedures, in accordance with the UN Charter, to prevent Israel from repeating such attacks,” the Damascus-run SANA news agency reported.
Earlier in the day, SANA reported that Israeli jets struck military sites near the Damascus International Airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon.
According to SANA, the Foreign Ministry asserted that the attack aimed to cover up “disputes in Israel,” namely “the collapse of the Israeli coalition government.”
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Israel did not confirm the strikes, and on Sunday the IDF said it does not comment on “foreign reports.”
The Syrian armed forces’ general command said Sunday’s “flagrant attack” caused material damage, but did not provide any details on what was hit near the airport or in the town of Dimas.
“This aggression demonstrates Israel’s direct involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria along with well-known regional and Western countries to raise the morale of terrorist groups, mainly the Nusra Front,” the military said in a preposterous statement carried by SANA.
There is no evidence Israel has provided any support to the Nusra Front, which is al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the target in Dimas was a military position. The organization also said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse, although it was unclear what was in the building. Operations at the Damascus international airport are both civilian and military.
According to the Observatory, around 10 explosions could be heard outside a military area near Dimas. There was no word on casualties in either strike.
Israel is reported to have carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the revolt against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. Most of the raids have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group.
During a cabinet meeting earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that Israel was prepared to “deal” with ongoing “threats and challenges,” though he did not specify which threats he was referring to.
“We are closely monitoring the Middle East and what is happening with open eyes and ears, and a lot is happening,” Netanyahu said.
“We will stay informed and we will deal with these unremitting threats and challenges. We will deal with them with the same responsibility that we have up until now,” he added
Netanyahu’s comment was interpreted in some quarters as a hint at the imminent alleged Israeli action.
Later Sunday, an unnamed diplomatic source was quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 discounting the notion that the timing of the alleged Israeli action was connected to Israel’s election climate, with the Knesset set to approve its own dissolution on Monday and set new elections on March 17, 2105. “Without relating to any specific incident,” the source said, “there is no [partisan domestic] political consideration in any of Israel’s military actions.”
Channel 2 speculated that the strike near the Damascus airport might have targeted stored weaponry, and noted that the Dimas target was on a road from Damascus to Beirut — the anticipated potential starting point of weapons deliveries to Hezbollah, it said.
The report also quoted Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen as saying that the “Middle East arms race has heated up” recently.
Israeli analysts noted that neither Syrian or Hezbollah officials threatened to hit back against Israel, but did reiterate their determination to “fight terrorism.”
Adiv Sterman and Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.